Culture / Sporting Life

Brothers in Line — UH Left Tackle Patrick Paul Leans On His NFL Sibling and a Nasty Streak to Become a Dominant Anchor

Chris Paul's Made Himself an Unlikely Washington Commanders Success Story and His Little Brother is Pushing Even Higher

BY // 09.07.22

As the University of Houston buses pulled away from Alamodome after win one, Patrick Paul’s brother Chris Paul, a Washington Commanders draft success story, and his mom Victoria stood at the end of the loading dock, waving, Hoping Patrick Paul would see. There won’t be many chances for Chris Paul to watch his younger brother play football in person this season.

So given a rare three day break on the last NFL-free weekend, Chris Paul seized it, flew into Houston and drove up from the Paul brothers’ childhood home with their mom to watch Patrick in San Antonio. UH’s offensive line largely didn’t play as well collectively as it expected in Week 1 — certainly didn’t play like Patrick Paul expected it too. But Chris Paul has no doubt his brother will help get the line on track with a trip to Texas Tech looming.

Because he doesn’t know anyone who is more obsessed with offensive line technique and grabbing every little edge possible than Patrick.

“I honestly don’t know another person who works so, so hard at his craft,” Chris Paul tells PaperCity. “He’s extremely passionate about this sport and all the techniques and intricacies that come with being an offensive lineman. From working on his craft. To working on how he does in the run game.

“To working on things like cardio aerobic endurance. To boxing drills he does. He’s very, very dedicated to his craft.”

Patrick Paul is still only a redshirt sophomore in eligibility terms, but he’s clearly the rock that this revamped Houston offensive line with three new starters must lean on. The potential future first round draft (more on this later) at left tackle stands in at 6-foot-7 and 310-plus pounds and gives UH’s line someone who can be physically dominant over opponents.

“I think I’ve been in a leadership role since last year,” Patrick Paul says. “And it’s basically leading by example first. And stepping out in being more of a vocal leader. That’s what I’m working on. That’s what I’m going to try and do this year.”

Chris Paul (and yes, he knows he has the same name as a certain NBA Point God, almost everyone he mets in sports brings it up) will tell you that his little brother almost always gets what he sets his mind to done. The brothers in line talk to each other after almost every game both of them play — and plenty more during the week too.

They go in depth on what they see in each other’s play, trade tips, basically share an obsession.

“We definitely help other a lot,” Chris Paul tells PaperCity. “There’s times that even in my days back at Tulsa. . . If I’m playing a game, he’s watching. He’ll text me during halftime and say, ‘Hey, do this better. Finish better off of the ball. This guy’s doing this.’ There are times where at Tulsa where we would watch each other’s film.

“Because we’re in the same conference. We play the same teams. So I’m watching how he’s blocking this guy. And I’m taking after that. And he’s doing the same.”

Chris Paul wasn’t as highly touted coming out of Tulsa as Patrick Paul figures to be when he leaves UH. The Commanders took him with a seventh round pick in last April’s NFL Draft. But Chris Paul’s wasted little time establishing himself. He goes into the season as Washington’s second team left guard, no small feat for a guy taken in the draft’s last round.

And Patrick Paul’s been pulling for him every step of the way, helping to sharpen his technique with those constant texts, keeping the encouragement high.

“It’s definitely a motivator,” Patrick Paul says of Chris making an NFL roster. “I’m very proud of him for how far he’s come. It’s definitely a motivator for me to get to that same level as him. And to be able to play on Sundays with him.”

“I don’t think you have to have a nasty side to be a good offensive lineman, but I do. I feel like that’s the way the game should be played. You’ve got to be nasty with it.” — UH left tackle Patrick Paul

Chris Paul Washington Commanders
Washington Commanders left guard Chris Paul expects his UH brother Patrick Paul to join him in the NFL soon. While being a much higher draft pick.

In truth, offensive line is already something of the Paul family business. The oldest of Victoria’s three sons — Nicholas Paul — played offensive line at Northeastern State, a Division II school in Oklahoma.

The Wright brothers did airplanes. The Mario brothers are all plumbers. The Paul brothers are offensive linemen.

To hear Chris Paul tell it, there really wasn’t much debate about which position the three Paul brothers would play as they grew up in Houston.

“I mean we’ve always been large,” Chris Paul laughs. “Large and in charge. I don’t think we had a choice.”

Chris Paul is 6-foot-4 and 324 pounds. Nicholas Paul measured in at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds during his playing days. And then, there’s the baby brother Patrick Paul at. . . 6-foot-7.

Victoria can’t remember a time when her sons weren’t big. Even as babies.

“People would always stop me and ask me: ‘What do you feed these boys?’ ” she tells PaperCity.

Still, it doesn’t seem surprising to this mom to have one son in the NFL and the other at a major college program, knocking at the door of pro football too.

“Actually, I did expect it,” Victoria says. “Because (Chris) worked very hard for it. He put his all in all into it. I knew he was going to be successful. And he’s the kind of kid that whenever he sets his mind to something, he accomplishes the goal. Chris is a goal setter and he completes that.

“So I wasn’t surprised. He deserves to be in the NFL.”

UH’s Nasty Boy

Offensive linemen are used to being as anonymous as delivery drivers. It’s just part of the gig. When the University of Houston scores a big touchdown this season, the cameras will focus on Clayton Tune, Nathaniel Dell, Ta’Zhawn Henry, Matthew Golden and other Cougar playmakers. Patrick Paul is fine with that. But UH’s left tackle plans to grab just a little bit of the spotlight.

By being nasty.

“I don’t think you have to have a nasty side to be a good offensive lineman, but I do,” Paul says when I ask him about his on-field mean streak. “I feel like that’s the way the game should be played. You’ve got to be nasty with it.

“And it’s very entertaining to watch. A lot of people don’t know offensive linemen and you could go a whole game without noticing what the offensive line does. Unless they do bad. But when you see someone get pancaked, you might see that.”

It’s hard to miss Patrick Paul’s pancake blocks. For one, Paul is one huge human. At 6-7, he’s four inches taller than UH’s quarterback Tune and almost a foot taller than Henry, UH’s starting tailback. But the real reason Paul’s pancakes stand out so much is they often involve the big man almost tossing unwitting defensive players aside.

The best of Paul’s pancake blocks — a block where the defender ends up helplessly lying flat on his back — jump off the game film.

Patrick Paul is so determined to make himself dominant that he works with Marvin Hollie Jr. at Get R.I.T.E. training in Missouri City, which has become something of an NFL offensive and defensive line factory. During the summers at Get R.I.T.E., Paul works out with Joshua Jones, the Arizona Cardinals starter who played left tackle at UH; Tampa Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith; former Texans offensive lineman Roderick Johnson; and other pros and college standouts.

“When I first started working with Patrick, he was young,” Hollie tells PaperCity. “And one of the biggest things was his pad level. By him being tall, by him being long, it was hard for him to bend the way he needed to bend,

“. . . W e’ve been working on his pad level and being able to stay low in the run game. Be able to be explosive out of his pass game. And every year he supersedes what we work on during the offseason.”

Patrick Paul’s natural aggressiveness pushes all that carefully-schooled technique to a new level.

“He’s nasty in-between the lines, but he’s not nasty outside the lines,” Hollie says. “. . . He knows how to be aggressive between the lines and he knows how to be a leader on the field as well. Knowing how to turn that switch on and off is even more of what makes him a pro.

“Because he’s in control of his emotions, but he knows how to be dominant on the field. He loves to be nasty on the field. He loves those pancake blocks. When he gets on the field, Pat is a whole different animal. When he gets off the field, he’s a gentle giant.”

One who is always asking Hollie for extra things he can do. One who has taken UH sophomore left guard Cam’Ron Johnson under his big wing.

Patrick also praises the work that Houston offensive line coach (and co-offensive coordinator) Brandon Jones has done with him. (PaperCity asked to talk to Jones, but was told he would not be made available by a school official.)

“I honestly don’t know another person who works so, so hard at his craft. He’s extremely passionate about this sport and all the techniques and intricacies that come with being an offensive lineman.” — Chris Paul on his brother Patrick

Jones and Hollie are working to help Patrick Paul become Houston’s latest early round draft pick.

“I do see Pat going very high in the draft,” Hollie says. “With the season he’s planning on having this year, if he does decide to leave after this year, I do see him being a very high draft pick. I would love him to go in the first round.

“I think he’s a first round talent.”

One who would be joining his brother in the NFL. These Paul brothers are ready for it. After all, they’ve been speaking their own offensive line language for a while now.

“When a lot of people are watching a football game, they’re watching the wide receiver, the running back, whoever has the ball,” Chris Paul says. “I’m watching the line. I love everything about it. And Pat’s the same way.

“It’s a really interesting and important position.”

Even mom is a convert.

“Because of my boys,” Victoria says. “I’m always watching the offensive lines to see what everybody else is doing.”

It is the family business now.