Helmets Off: Sooners’ WR Paul Driven to Make Next Level By: Elizabeth Karchut
Devin Paul, a wide receiver for the Ottawa Sooners, has a certain finesse to his game that only
can be fully appreciated when he is dancing his way around diving defenders, breaking through
the opponents’ ranks as if they were merely standing still.
and anything from reaching his quarterback as a slot back. Not bad for a player who started his
career in the tiny, Brockville house league with the Brockville Renegades sum nine years ago.
In high school, Paul, who was at this time a quarterback, was kind of a big deal with the St.
Mary’s Crusaders. “I basically won all of the awards,” he said with a laugh. “What I got in 2010-
2011 was the Fair Play Award and that was an overall sports award they gave me for football. I
also got a coaches award twice and I got the MVP twice.”
for the Sooners, the 55-year-old Canadian Junior Football League club that allows players
between the ages of 17 and 24 to play football post-high school.
The Sooners, however, are just a stepping stone towards Paul’s greater goals. “I definitely want
to play professional ball, either Canadian football or in Europe,” Paul said. “I believe I would
probably have to go through the CIS to be able to do that, get up into that higher level and
improve my football skills.”
For a slot back, blocking is pretty important. Paul said he would like to improve his blocking,
especially his cut blocking. That way, he can make the most of his time on the field when he
doesn’t have the football. Paul currently trains with KING Football, an athletic training group
that works with the University of Ottawa GeeGees and the Ottawa REDBLACKS.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from my hunger to continue to play and reach another level,”
Paul said. “But I do have a lot of friends on the team (Sooners) that definitely inspire me to
continue going the way I’m going.
“(Quarterback) Graham Kelly is one of them. (Defensive back) Nick Tshilenge is another, as
well as Coach Kirkwood. They encourage me to keep playing.”
Paul also adds that “I’m kind of inspired by (wide receiver) Matt Coates on the Hamilton Tiger-
Cats because he played in my league two years ago (with the Hamilton Hurricanes) and the next year he was in the Grey Cup, so that’s pretty inspiring.”
Another player Paul enjoys to watch and learn from is Antonio Brown, a wide receiver for the
Pittsburgh Steelers. While Paul is aiming for the next level in his football career, he took some time to reflect on his current team and where he has come from before playing with the Sooners. Paul said that this year, his Sooners team is more of a family in comparison to others.
“We’re way closer. After the championship, (which we lost) we all still wanted to continue
playing. So we’re all pretty close,” Paul said. “On the bus, like for away games, they (seemed) so
short because we were all hanging out, it was a good time.”
The coaches, Paul said, got better throughout the year. “Coach Buck is just really wise and he is
always calm, which helps the team a lot because we know we have Coach Kirkwood, who’s not
always calm. So it is a nice balance,” he added.
While he relishes his time with the Sooners, Paul cannot help but look back at his favourite
football memory, which came in his grade twelve year. “We were in a playoff game and it was
the last play of the game, there were seconds left, and one of my best friends in high school,
Jamie Sturgeon, was my main receiver. “On the last play, he (Sturgeon) did a go-route and I hit him in between two defensive backs for the win to go to the championship game. So that’s probably one of my favourite memories,” Paul said.
So it turns out Paul can also thread the needle. And in another testament to his athleticism, he
was also an Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association long jumper in high school. Oh,
and he can ride a unicycle.