HOUSTON, Texas — Towering over defensive ends at the line of scrimmage, University of Houston sophomore offensive tackle Patrick Paul routinely slams his hands into their shoulder pads and slings them down to the ground. Displaying a nasty streak and increasingly polished blocking skills, Paul supplies frequent reminders about his temperament and NFL draft potential.
At 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, Paul is a two-time all-conference selection who’s drawing preliminary interest from NFL scouts — should he declare early for the draft after next season.
Houston OT Patrick Paul preparing for 2022 season
Spring football is over, but Paul is still working overtime toward his goal of becoming a first-round draft pick one day. “Keep him away from the quarterback,” Paul said. “No one gets past me. My offensive line coach fosters that it’s a big thing to finish and go past the whistle. I play the game with that dog mentality.”
He’s spending his morning working out with Marvin Hollie Jr., an offensive and defensive line specialist of Get R.I.T.E. training and sports performance who trains NFL veteran linemen, including Josh Jones and Jordan Mills.
Performing mirror drills, working on his stance, and maintaining his balance and footwork while moving around a heavy medicine ball, Paul displays athleticism and energy throughout a lengthy workout session.
“The emphasis was really working on your kicks and our technique,” Paul said. “It’s a big thing for offensive linemen. We’re working on our sets. I’m really learning the game of football, working on my technique, being more coachable, and enjoying the process by working every day and setting new goals every day.”
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Opting for a school closer to home has paid off
A former high school all-district offensive tackle who had 45 pancake blocks and was a standout shot put and discus thrower, Paul turned down the opportunity to join his brother at Tulsa to remain closer to home and play for the Cougars.
It’s been a good experience for Paul, playing for coach Dana Holgorsen as well as offensive line coach and run game coordinator Brandon Jones and offensive analyst JaJuan Dulaney.
The Cougars finished 12-2 last season and 8-0 in AAC contests, losing to Cincinnati in the Conference Championship Game before defeating Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl.
“Coach Holgorsen is a fun guy,” Paul said. “He’s a great coach. He coaches you hard. Brandon Jones is a great coach, that’s my mentor. Coach Dulaney is very detailed. I’m coached very well. I feel like we’re close as a team and working toward a very good year. We can be very good.”
One advantage Paul has embraced is working against NFL-caliber defensive linemen at practice.
Over the past two years, Paul has been tasked with blocking former teammates and current NFL defensive linemen Payton Turner and Logan Hall. Turner was drafted in the first round by the New Orleans Saints last year. Hall was selected with the first pick of the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It has been a good opportunity for him to test his blocking skills against elite players.
“It’s been amazing,” Paul said. “Going against those guys each day definitely gets you better. It’s been a great thing to have them as teammates. Those are elite guys I’m practicing against. You really learn how to win. Those type of guys have a lot of moves. You can’t be lazy. You have to learn how to block them even when you’re tired and play hard.”
Paul hopes to follow older brother Chris to the NFL
Paul’s older brother, Chris, is a rookie seventh-round draft pick of the Washington Commanders and a former Tulsa standout offensive lineman.
“I think it’s really good during your off-time to work on your craft and not get lazy,” Paul said. The Houston OT emulates several accomplished NFL offensive linemen, including the Houston Texans’ Laremy Tunsil, San Francisco 49ers’ Trent Williams, Green Bay Packers’ David Bakhtiari, Dallas Cowboys’ Tyron Smith, and Tennessee Titans’ Taylor Lewan.
“You want to get your work in. I want to win. Obviously, it’s important that we win. I want to be a top-10 draft pick, hopefully be All-American. That’s what I’m working towards.”
For Paul, watching his brother realize his dream of making it to the NFL resonated strongly. As good as his brother is at football, the former Jersey Village standout is regarded as having an even higher potential ceiling.
“It hits home,” Paul said. “I’m very proud of him. It’s motivation for me. Now, I have to prove myself and hopefully get there with him. He’s leading the way. When it’s my turn, I know what to do.”
Marvin Hollie Jr. speaks on Paul’s potential
“What sets him apart, the level and the type of player he is, the Josh Jones, the Jordan Mills, those guys, the vets and the pros, he’s a part of that cream of the crop,” Hollie Jr. said. “I’m expecting big things. I might be a little biased, but I see first-round potential. Great feet. To me, he’s a first-rounder.
“This is about him wanting to get better, to work with a personal trainer. I’ve been working with him for two years, and he’s working on bettering his craft. I nitpick everything they do, so they’ve an even better offensive lineman.”