Joshua Paul of New Albany signed a D1 scholarship on Wednesday with Louisiana Tech baseball. Paul will take his game to the next level with another set of Bulldogs who are members of Conference USA.

The Bulldogs of LA Tech won the Western Division of their conference and finished with a 42-20 record and hosted their first regional in 2021. They are coached by Lane Burroughs. 

Paul shared his excitement of how his signing experience and how it came to fruition.

I usually don’t enjoy being made to feel special or stand out but I have worked and continue to work very hard to try to be an asset to any team I play for," Paul said. "My signing day was like a second birthday to me and very special to have the coaches, my team, teachers, and other staff come by to congratulate me and encourage me.

"I know that the hard work to get better and play at the next level has just begun, but I also know that I have many people who are praying for me, cheering me on and encouraging me to reach my dreams to continue to play baseball. Hopefully, I can use my talent and skills to make a difference in the lives of others."

Paul went on to share how his recruitment process went with LA Tech and how he came to arrive at his decision. 

"I hate to even say the word covid, but it threw a punch to the recruitment process as well as most people know," Paul said. "I could not really officially meet with my coaches until my official visit back in September. Most communication was done through texts and zoom calls.

"My family and I made several unofficial trips to LA Tech to first see the campus and get a feel for the community. The first visit to campus just so happened to be on the day of the beginning of the huge ice storm in February of 2021. We drove down to take a drive around campus and almost didn’t make it home when the roads started to ice over.

Paul said his second trip was to a baseball game to get a feel for the community and fans.

"LA Tech was playing Southern Miss and the baseball rivalry was fun to watch," he said. "Love the spirit and love for what being a Bulldog really means.

"I was already wearing LA Tech clothing, no matter if I was in a store or restaurant people would stop and ask me if I played a sport for La Tech and their kindness and encouragement made me feel like I was already home.

Paul made several visits, but one of the more memorable ones was his fifth visit.

"The fifth trip was the actual official weekend and it was very exciting," he said. "I want to major in what they call “ICE T” Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology and so we spent most of the first day touring the Engineering Department which was just voted as #1 in the US.

"I finally got to meet my Coaches and spend time with them for a meal with family and fellow Class of 2022 future LA Tech baseball players from all over the country. Touring and spending time in the baseball facility with Coach Burroughs, Coach Gaspard, Coach Fouts and Coach Miller was very special. To actually finally get to shake their hands and start the process of getting to know them felt like it would never happen.  Each Coach made me feel welcome and part of a program that wants to win but also wants to make me better."

Paul was very impressed with Burroughs as coach and his leadership qualities. 

"He (Burroughs) knows just how important the community and fan base are in Ruston for our team," Paul said. "He seems to be a very good family man and God follower. This is a very important trait in a coach for me not only being led as a baseball player but in having the right leadership to help me become a better man."

Paul credits his parents and brother Collin for helping him reach his potential and reaching this milestone in life.

"My family has always been supportive of me," Paul said. "My Dad has been a major source of encouragement to me. His father (my grandfather) loved baseball and watched every game he could possibly watch. He suddenly passed away when my dad was two so my dad has always been determined to be an important part of my life and encourages me to use what God has given me to be different and work hard every day to be all that He has made me to be.

"My Mom always listens to me, my dad and my brother discuss games, practice and other things related to our day, she asks if my performance was good or bad so she just really tries to encourage me on a game and development she doesn’t understand but she does believe in me.

 "From Coach pitch through my 11th grade, I was blessed to be able to play on the same baseball team with my older brother Collin who now plays for East Mississippi Community College. He would always encourage me to use my talent and work it to be what I wanted to be. He would remind me today is the day to work harder than yesterday and do what others are not willing to do to be able to do what they can’t tomorrow."

As Paul enters his final season as a New Albany Bulldog, he offered his thoughts on his personal and team achievements that he hopes to see. 

"I hope that I have made my school want to begin to watch LA Tech Baseball and its run to Omaha. Really, I hope that I have made New Albany School District and community proud of me for being the very first D1 baseball player to come from New Albany High School.

"I will continue to work hard to reach the next level for my community to have pride in another small-town baseball boy who made it. I hope to be remembered by my team that I was fair and worked hard. I tried to be an upper classman that welcomed new teammates and tried to help them when they asked for my opinion or for my help. I hope that my leadership wasn’t just on paper but respected by my peers through my hard work and dedication." 

New Albany coach Buddy Hall commented on his experience with Paul and how he sees a bright future ahead for his player. 

"Josh is an exceptionally hard worker. He’s put in a lot of extra time both on and off the field developing as a player. He will be a big key to our success this season especially on the mound.

"When not pitching he will primarily be our starting center fielder. If he continues to develop and learn at the next level, I believe he could be a 95 mph guy." 

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