The story of Cody Paul, YouTube sensation, has been chronicled thoroughly since the diminutive football player was dubbed “The White Reggie Bush” in 2007, not long after Bush had finished dropping jaws at USC.
A highlight video of Paul – barely five-feet tall – breaking opponents’ ankles as a 12-year-old went viral at the time and now has more than 8 million hits on YouTube.
The most-recent comment from Wednesday reads: “He is good for his age.”
A Southern California kid, Paul was predicted by some to attain stardom just like Bush, who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints and currently is a running back for the Miami Dolphins.
It was a little premature for a kid in junior high school, and little initially was heard from Paul at the next level, Los Alamitos High School in Los Angeles.
But now a 5-foot-7, 170-pound feature back, Paul is back to turning heads as a high school senior. Through five games this season, he already had 531 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
In the past, Los Alamitos had used Paul in different ways, moving him around the formation and even splitting him wide as a receiver. But Paul has realized that his football future is running the ball – even if he has had to change his style from his Pop Warner days.
“Back then, I used to try to do it all the time – every play I tried to make something happen,” Paul told OCVarsity.com. “Now, you can’t. If you have to put your nose down and get three hard yards, you have to.”
Three yards and cloud of dust? That doesn’t sound like Bush at all. But it has gotten results for Paul, who almost has caught up to his junior output – 652 yards and eight touchdowns – midway through his senior campaign. Paul’s junior season YouTube (where else?) highlights are embedded below.
While Paul has matured as a runner, that doesn’t mean that he’s not capable of the occasional highlight. OCVarsity.com described his 72-yard touchdown run against Santa Margarita on September 29, when he used both a juke and a stiff arm to spring himself free down the sideline en route to the score.
There have been other similar runs this season by Paul – you don’t rack up double-digit scores without accumulating a highlight reel – and he still is known by his teammates as “Mr. YouTube.”
His coach, John Barnes, got a quick lesson in the popular video-sharing site when Paul arrived at Los Alamitos.
“My son, Jimmy, was playing (quarterback) at Alabama at the time and one days he calls and says, ‘Dad, all the guys were asking me if I knew who Cody Paul is. He’s got this highlight tape on YouTube you should check out,’” Barnes told MaxPreps.
“I didn’t know how to go on YouTube, so I had to have someone get me on there and show it to me, but it was cool. We don’t recruit or anything like that, so then one day he just showed up as a freshman.”
Barnes told MaxPreps last month that FCS Bryant University (Rhode Island) has been the only school to contact him, though he did receive a letter from Oregon. Always looking for speed, wouldn’t it be a treat to see Paul in Chip Kelly’s point-a-minute offense?
For that matter, why wouldn’t Pac-12 rivals USC or UCLA at least extend a walk-on offer to the local phenom and human highlight?
As a result of his size, Paul no doubt will need to prove himself at the next level. But he will be prepared to do so.
According to OCVarsity.com, Paul has improved his strength by bench-pressing 310 pounds and his speed by joining the track team. He helped Los Alamitos win the 400-meter relay at the Orange County Championships last spring.
But his bread and butter remains his big-play ability on the football field.
“He’s doing the same thing now that he did back then,” Barnes told MaxPreps. “He’s special. He can make guys miss, he catches everything, he runs screens well.”
Yes, Paul is blowing up again and it appears only a matter of time until another YouTube mix of him goes viral.