October 4, 2007

Wide receiver Raymond was real catch for Brown

Oct. 4, 2007

Providence, RI -

BY MIKE SZOSTAK, Journal Sports Writer

When Brown football coach Phil Estes and his defensive coordinator Mike Kelleher were recruiting Paul Raymond in 2004, they flew to Florida to find out if their prospect was ready to commit.

They went to Miami Senior High School, hardly a hangout for Ivy League recruiters, and found Raymond in the hallway near the football office. As they approached, he began to walk by them.

"Paul is very quiet. He's just a shy guy. If we hadn't stopped him, he would have walked by," Estes said yesterday while describing one of the best receivers in the Ivy League this season. "We said hi, and he said hi. We said we flew all the way down here to talk to him, and he said OK. We asked if he had made a decision, and he said no. We asked if he would make a decision soon, and he said yes. We walked out after 15 minutes."

Estes chuckled and added, "The trip was worth it because we got him."

Raymond is a senior now, still quiet, but a star. He is a two-time Ivy League indoor 60-meter dash champion after having never run track before. He has an Ivy League football championship ring from the 2005 season. And after three games this year he leads the league in receiving yards per game (120) and has the longest reception (80 yards). He is second in all-purpose yardage per game (184.7) behind Yale tailback Mike McLeod (197.7).

The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder had the best day of his career last Saturday in a 49-42 double-overtime loss to URI. He caught six passes for 221 yards, three covering 80, 44 and 49 yards. He also returned five kicks for 102 yards with a long return of 34 yards. His receiving yardage was the fourth-best in Brown history and his all-purpose yardage of 323 was the fifth-best in Ivy League history and the most since Michael Lerch of Penn racked up 463 yards against Brown in 1991. Raymond would have been the Ivy League offensive player of the week, but McLeod rushed for 256 yards, a Yale record, and scored five touchdowns in Yale's 38-17 victory over Holy Cross. He earned the weekly honor; Raymond made the honor roll.

All that meant little to Raymond, however, because Brown lost the game. The Bears (1-2) will try to rebound Saturday against Holy Cross (2-2) at Brown Stadium.

"The biggest thing now is to win this week," Raymond said yesterday after a class. "Football is more of a team game, and any play I make is a product of the other 10 guys on the field and the scout team giving me good looks."

Raymond has 12 catches for 360 yards and three touchdowns this year and has made big plays in every game. He caught a 33-yard pass for a touchdown against Duquesne. He grabbed five passes for 106 yards at Harvard and electrified the Saturday night crowd with a 63-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. And Saturday against the Rams he brought the Brown Stadium crowd to its feet when he made an over-the-shoulder catch of a perfectly thrown Michael Dougherty pass and took it 80 yards for a touchdown. He made a similar catch later but was tripped up after a 49-yard gain.

In addition to outrunning defenses, Raymond catches balls in traffic over the middle and on the sidelines and blocks downfield. Watch him on a football Saturday, and you'd never know he's a sprinter during the winter and spring.

"Track to me is straight-ahead running," Estes said. "Football is not even close. It's about change of direction, change of tempo. And there's no contact in track. You can get track guys who are fast, but they're not so fast on the football field."

Raymond has proven fast enough to attract NFL scouts and tough enough to bang with anybody in a different color uniform.

"He goes 100 miles per hour all the time, whether he's blocking or running. He's a guy who attacks people. He doesn't look all that big, but if he gets a hold of you, he'll take you down," Estes said.

"I'm not afraid of the contact," Raymond said. "Mentally, I've had it since I was young. When you make a play and get hit and can get back up, it shows you have the ability to endure and overcome."