Oklahoma State freshman David Paulsen, a lifelong UGA fan who turned down a last-second opportunity to sign with the Bulldogs, is likely to see significant playing time against Georgia.
Georgia plays at Oklahoma State at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 in the season opener for both teams.
Paulsen, who starred at Marietta’s Walton High School, confirmed on Sunday that he is currently holding down a spot as a starter on Oklahoma State’s special teams. The Cowboys have big plans in the future at fullback for Paulsen, who has been practicing with the first- and second-team offense.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was thrilled to hold off the hard-charging Bulldogs to win a recruiting battle against Georgia last February. “I’ll have to admit, when they first offered him, I was really concerned because I know how strong those ties can be.”
“He felt like we had been loyal to him. We offered him from the start. He fit into our system. He came with a strong background. His family has a lot of substance to them. They honored their commitment, and they knew that we are going to do everything we can for the next 4-5 years to help David be successful. So he stuck with us … sometimes you have players do that.”
Paulsen’s dream was to play at Georgia, but the Bulldogs had only offered him a spot as a preferred walk-on when he committed to Oklahoma State last October. A few months later, Georgia coach Mark Richt decided he wanted a fullback in his 2009 recruiting class, offering Paulsen a “greyshirt” scholarship. Under that scenario, Paulsen would’ve signed with Georgia this past year, but waited until January 2010 to enroll.
However, the real fireworks went off on the morning on signing day. After being informed that a couple of Georgia targets were going to sign with other schools, Richt called Paulsen at 6:45 in the morning with the following information in a voicemail: The Bulldogs were offering a regular scholarship to sign later that day.
Paulsen signed the paperwork with Oklahoma State before returning the call. “I saw the 706 area code. I knew it was from Athens … I called [Richt] back after I signed and we talked it over. He wasn’t pressuring me. He just said the offer is there if you want it. If you don’t, good luck and Oklahoma State and we’ll try to beat you next year.”
How close did Paulsen come to switching? “If I would’ve heard from Georgia in November or December, things would’ve been much different. But I had built relationships with the players and coaches at Oklahoma State. In my heart, as much I love Georgia, I knew it was just the right thing to do to stick with Oklahoma State.”
Oklahoma State signed three players from the state of Georgia last February, but Paulsen was the only one who also had an offer from UGA. The Cowboys have six players on their current roster with Georgia connections.
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