Niles Paul’s roots run deep in the soil of the Cornhusker State.
Before being selected by the Washington Redskins in the 2011 NFL Draft, and before he starred in front of 80,000-plus routinely on Saturdays at Nebraska, Paul attended North High School in Omaha, Neb.
Paul torched the competition, most notably during a senior season in which he caught 46 passes for 814 yards and 13 touchdowns, while also averaging more than 18 yards per punt return.
He was named first-team All-Nebraska while also being selected first-team All-Metro by the “Omaha World-Herald” and first-team Super-State by the “Lincoln Journal Star.”
But, while he was garnishing national attention for his play on the field, few understood what he was dealing with off of it.
Paul’s mother, Majorie, passed away when he was 12. His father struggled with the loss. And being one of 13 kids in the household, they didn’t have much money.
So Paul decided that if he were ever in a spot to give back he would.
Last season, the tight end gave his high school their first set of new jerseys. This season, he gave them a second uniform combo while also giving them new cleats and accessories.
“I knew that once I left that school and I was able to give back, I was going to give back,” he told The Redskins Blog. “I owe so much to that program, Coach Larry Martin and Principal Gene Haynes.
“To show my gratitude, the least I could do was give them new uniforms and have those guys out there have something new. They work hard.”
Another reason he provided new cleats was because he couldn’t afford new cleats of his own during his upbringing, and wanted to make sure others didn’t have to experience the same issues he faced.
“There are a lot of kids in that school who don’t have a lot,” he said. “We all come from less fortunate backgrounds. I played my whole high school career with one pair of shoes and one pair of cleats the whole time, so I just wanted to make sure that everybody didn’t have to deal with the same problem.”
Earlier this week, while wearing the uniforms donated to them by Paul, North won its second-consecutive state title with a 41-0 victory over Creighton Prep.
While Paul didn’t get to see them in action, he hopes to hear of their triumph in-person when he returns to Nebraska.
“I haven’t been back to see them in a game, but the offseason I get to see them and I get to talk to some of the young guys who are still there,” Paul said as he grabbed his Nebraska hat and headed out to watch the conclusion of the Cornhuskers’ overtime victory over Iowa.
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