Editor’s note: In the final 50 days before Chip Kelly and the Ducks return to the field to defend their status as Pac-12 Champions, the Emerald sports desk will take a look back at one Oregon alum each day whose jersey number corresponds to the amount of days left before the season opener against Arkansas State.
His name is David Paulson — and he was among the unsung heroes in an offense dominated by star running backs and mobile quarterbacks. In his two years as the first option at tight end for Oregon, he had over 400 yards receiving with 24 and 31 catches in his junior and senior seasons. As he was utilized more, Paulson increased his production, finding the endzone six times in his senior season, up from four a year before. In his final Civil War, Paulson had a career high in yards, breaking the century mark with 105. In the Ducks comeback-that-wasn’t against USC, Paulson made one of the best catches of the season by any Duck, snatching the ball with one hand while somehow corralling it back to his body.
Paulson also shined in the areas missed by a casual glance at the stat sheet: setting up Oregon’s talented backfield with a number of key blocks. He did this by giving Darron Thomas time to watch the play and let the receivers’ routes develop, and even throwing for a 2-point conversion in the Ducks demolishing of Stanford.
In a speedy offense dominated by the likes of De’Anthony Thomas and LaMichael James, Paulson was sometimes — perhaps wrongly — criticized for his lack of speed. But good late-season performances, including a touchdown against UCLA in the Pac-12 title game and a solid grab in Oregon’s Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin, quieted those doubters. Paulson padded his resume, which included a second-team All-Pac-12 selection (first-team all-academic) by playing in the East-West Shrine game and recording a solid outing at the NFL’s scouting combine to help his draft stock rise. Paulson was selected in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Duck fans can dream of him someday catching passes from another former Oregon great, quarterback Dennis Dixon.