David Paulson was a rock. A leader, a clutch playmaker and a great locker room guy. Every championship team needs players like David Paulson, athletes who understand that call of duty is more than a video game, who run toward responsibility instead of the stat sheet.
It's more than the catches for touchdowns or big first downs, and he made plenty of those. Watch the highlight films of James, Barner and Thomas, and count the key blocks by Paulson, a 3-year starter and Academic All-Conference award winner.
The Ducks have a long and impressive line of reliable, big-play tight ends. Josh Wilcox, Blake Spence, Justin Peele, George Wrightster, Dante Rosario, Ed Dickson and now Paulson all spent time in the NFL after standout careers with the Webfoots. Paulson's graduation leaves a big void, probably the biggest single position question mark on the roster after quarterback. QB has proven to be a bit plug-and-play for Oregon, but position coach Tom Osborne and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich rely on the TE/H-back to do so much in the Oregon offense. The TE becomes the lead blocker on many of the Ducks outside running plays, moves around in the formation, and is vital for balance in the passing game with the crossing, seam and possession routes the team needs to exploit the whole field. There's no spread in the spread offense without execution from the tight end.
Can Colt Lyerla, Evan Baylis, Pharoah Brown, Reggie Daniel and Lake Koa'Kai imitate the reliability and durability that made Paulson, and Dickson and the others before him, such great weapons in the Oregon offense?