In his first game in a Utes uniform, Gionni Paul, the junior linebacker that transferred from Miami, recorded 14 tackles (10 solo), one interception, and one fumble recovery. He was named Athlon Sports's National Defensive Player of the Week for his debut effort. Well, the Utes will have to finish out the last two games of the regular season, and the bowl game, without Paul, who will be out because of a lingering foot injury. Paul was an instant impact player this season, in only eight games, and playing well under 100 percent.
On the season, Paul is currently third on the team with 61 tackles and leads the team with four interceptions. He also has three tackles for loss, one sack, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Paul joins a growing list of Utes that will miss the remainder of the season, including Dres Anderson, Kendal Thompson, Tim Patrick, and fellow transfer Tevin Carter. Paul will be back next season, and hopefully they put him on ice until then.
Paul also was playing with a broken hand that he sustained in the Oregon State game, from his interception on Utah's first defensive play. A couple of weeks ago Paul had this quote in the Salt Lake Tribune:
"I'm playing great with a hurt hand and a hurt foot, man," he said. "Teams, they to cut me, try to do things, but I love it. Bring it on. I love this game so much, I'll go out there on one leg and play. That's just the type of person I am."
Gionni Paul just loves to play, and boy, he's good at it. Can't wait to see him play at 100%.
As for some good news, it sounds like Jason Whittingham should see some time this week, and every week Jacoby Hale gets more and more integrated back into the scheme of things. Also expect Jason Fanaika to get increased reps at linebacker, with Paul out.
Here are a couple highlights from Gionni Paul's season: