“All the players want to be on camera, especially since it’s going to ESPN. It’s going pretty good, letting the world know what’s inside Pirate football.” Leonard Paulk ECU cornerback
By Nathan Summers
Friday, October 26, 2012
Someday, some lucky elementary school kids are going to walk into their school gym and find out Leonard Paulk is going to be their gym teacher.
“I’m actually substituting now,” said Paulk, a senior at East Carolina University who is subbing at Farmville’s H.B. Sugg Elementary. “I did my internship out there during the spring so all the kids know me out there, and I’m bringing something back to the community.”
Until he fulfills his plan of becoming a full-time physical education teacher, though, Paulk has plenty else keeping him busy.
He’s already earned a degree in physical education, and while he pursues a second degree in health education and promotion, he devotes every other waking minute to being a starting cornerback on the ECU football team.
Even with all that going on, the Columbia, S.C., native has recently found a way to be even busier.
The photography enthusiast is spending his final football season chronicling the life of himself and his teammates through the art of pictures for ESPN The Magazine.
The apparent plan for the network is to compile the best photographs taken by Paulk and a handful of other college players throughout the country into a book. For now, however, the senior corner and substitute gym teacher is relishing the chance to snap photos in airports, on planes and even coming out of the tunnel in opposing stadiums.
“I always had an inspiration to take pictures, action pictures. I used to do it for my little brother in high school,” Paulk said. “I was presented an opportunity to actually do it for ESPN, so I took that opportunity and ran with it.”
Eight games into the season with the 5-3 Pirates, Paulk has submitted loads of images for the project, and word has long since gotten out about what he’s doing with that camera in his hands all the time.
“Everybody knows I’m doing it, everybody wants that picture moment, that glamour shot,” Paulk said. “All the players want to be on camera, especially since it’s going to ESPN. It’s going pretty good, letting the world know what’s inside Pirate football.”
The man who’s also got a penchant for drawing — usually pictures of ECU’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, he says — wants to paint a complete picture of the Pirates, not just the moments in and around the stadiums.
“I’m trying to integrate a little schoolwork into it as well, us in study hall, seeing us around campus,” said Paulk, who’s battled back into his starting position after being limited in August camp and the early part of the season with a knee injury. “I like the shots from the airplane, looking down to people on the ground.”
It’s only a shame he can’t take pictures of himself recently.
In his last three games, Paulk has 15 tackles, 10 of them solo stops, and a sack to go along with four pass breakups.
“It feels good to be back. I’m at 100 percent right now,” Paulk said. “It’s good to be out there to help my team get victories, and hopefully a conference championship.”
One of the elders in the ECU defensive backfield, Paulk has witnessed the remarkable growth of the unit around him since it switched from a 4-3 front seven to a 3-4 for the start of the 2011 season.
The better part of two seasons later, Paulk is coming in on blitzes while still making plays on passes, evidence of the overall versatility of the scheme.
“There’s a lot of variability to it,” Paulk said. “You get to roll each side, and there are different disguises you give the offense to confuse them, and it’s working right now. It’s helping us win games.”
Contact Nathan Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.