Paul Porras Asahi Bio
In the days
after he helped lead his new football team to a playoff berth thousands of
miles from Houston, Paul Porras was suddenly transported back in time to 2013
when he was on the receiving end of one of most unique onside kicks in college
The video of
Chris Boswell's successful 2013 rabona kick against Houston was revived from
the YouTube archives and began an improbable second viral run after Boswell's
attempt to replicate the fete with the Pittsburgh Steelers against the
Baltimore Ravens did not go as planned.
The video has garnered over 536,000 views in less than four days, to surpass Luke Turner's 2015 postgame press conference tribute to David
Bailiff as the most watched video in the Owls channel.
starring role as the Owl who knifed under Houston's Deontay Greenberry to
recover Boswell's masterwork, Porras was rewarded with a flood of text messages
from friends telling him he was on SportsCenter and countless social media
(former Rice offensive guard) messaged me saying I was on Sportscenter with
Chris Boswell for our onside kick highlight from the 2013 season," Porras
recalled from Amagasaki, Japan where he is playing for the Asahi Soft Drinks
Challengers of the X League, Japan's professional American football
"I was blown
away by the amount of views the video picked up in the course of a day," Porras
said. "Unfortunately the reason for ESPN
to bring up the video was due to the fact that Chris muffed a rabona onside
kick attempt in his game against the Ravens last weekend. But his onside kick in college was a beauty
and I am grateful to be a part of a little history in the college football
Porras was a
three-year starter at KAT for the Owls from 2011-13 and ranks eighth on the
Rice career tackles chart with 295. He
was a standout on the Owls 2013 C-USA Champions and also a C-USA All-Academic
He hoped to
continue his career at the next level and returned to his native Arizona to
train with Hakim Hill, a former Arizona State running back who had also played
in the UFL with former Rice quarterback Chase Clement. Porras hoped to earn a tryout for either the
CFL or Arena League, in the spring of 2015, but a pair of hamstring injuries
short-circuited that effort. After he
recovered, he practiced with the Arizona Wranglers of the Arena League, but
there were no roster spots available.
desire for a continued football career waned and he took a sales job with a
solar energy company in Arizona, but he quickly learned it was not a career
path on which he wanted to embark.
year and a half of the 'cubicle life' I realized I didn't want to make a career
out of solar sales," he recalled. "With the help of my parents pushing me to
get back into training for football, I decided to give it one more
He began training
with Coach Don Abram who has a gym in Mesa, Arizona and trains numerous
professional athletes. He had tryouts with CFL teams in the spring of 2016 but
another hamstring injury foiled that effort. After he recovered, he received a
call from Reggie Mitchell, who played 10 years in the Japan X League, asking if
he had any interest in playing overseas.
"I took the
opportunity and ran with it," Porras said.
"The head coach from the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers flew out to
Arizona and put me through a complete combine test. I did very well and signed a contract to play
for the 2016 fall season."
committed to taking his talents half a world away without direct connection to
the country and people who were offering him the chance to return to the field.
"I had no
idea what I was getting myself into," he admitted. "I just took this chance to
leave America for the first time and experience the other side of the world. I honestly didn't
prepare for the culture change. I only
talked to a few relatives about their experiences in Japan. I was going to Japan pretty much blind and planned
on winging it when I got there.
X League was created in 1997 as the successor to the Japan American Football
League which was founded in 1971.
Porras was joining a team whose coaches spoke only basic English and who
could carry a maximum of four American players.
He was also
joining a team mostly comprised of Japanese players who were more than ready to
prove their skills against their much more experienced American teammates.
start, my teammates were always trying to make the big play against me or prove
themselves to me. A lot of the players
didn't think I was good at first because I wasn't going all out in practice
like they did. But once the first game
came in August and I made 15 tackles and two tackles for loss, I earned the
respect of my coaches and players.
In the time
away from football, Porras had sprouted a bushy red beard and he kept his
distinctive look when he headed to Japan. His appearance made almost as big an
impression on his teammates and fans as his play on the field.
"I knew the
Japanese people were going to look at me strange because of my beard," Porras
said. "I feel like an alien at times out here with the looks I get from people
out here. My beard has been a major
topic of conversation out here. I've
been called Santa Claus, ZZ Top, and Dumbledore. Everyone wants to touch my
beard. I feel like a zoo animal at times,"
field, Porras had to overcome the challenges of new foods as the language
barrier. Weekly classes have made him more comfortable in conversation and his
part-time job during the week has allowed him to practice his skills.
part-time with a Japanese real estate company during the week," he noted. "I
help with marketing and public relations.
I go to many events and dinners with my business partners. I have thoroughly enjoyed making the
connections I have in Japan and will keep the friendships I have made when I am
back in America."
language skills are no match for the rapid fire cadence of his Japanese
coaches, who make no allowance for their American players. But weekly individual meetings with the
defensive coordinator allow him to grasp the game plan and prepare for each
field, Porras has found yet another unique set of challenges in an otherwise familiar
environment on the field.
players are undersized and a lot of the players lack the same experience and
knowledge that Americans have," he said. "I have been playing football for 17
years while my teammates have only been playing for 4 or 5 years. The Japanese football culture is much
different than that of America. Trust,
pride, and team morale are some of the differences I have experienced out in
Japan. Team moral and intensity is low
at times, especially when we are losing a game.
I have been instilling a positive and upbeat presence on the sidelines
and on the field from the first day I was with the team. It has been great seeing the transformation
of my team in the past few months.
thing to try and impress upon my teammates is believing in their abilities and
the fact that we can beat any team on our schedule," he stated. "A lot of
players out here don't trust in the coaching or their own playing ability and
it shows during games. In practice these
players are phenomenal, and then all of a sudden it's game time and they're a
completely different player. Players
need to buy in and trust in the system the coaches put in play."
of encouragement was backed up by his examples on the field, cemented by a pivotal
play to earn the Challengers a playoff berth.
Late in the game, he forced a fumble to clinch a victory and playoff
position and in the postgame elation, he found himself in a familiar spot.
teammates and coaching staff were crying after the game because that's how much
they knew we needed to win that game. It truly was a blessing to be a part of
that experience. This season has really
been similar to my 2012 season with Rice because of the way we have been able
to turn a terrible season into a productive one. We started the season of this year 1-4 and
now are currently 3-5. For us that is a
big deal because of the strength in schedule and the many obstacles we have had
to face with players not being able to make it to practices due to their jobs
as well as many key injuries. My
teammates have been buying into the idea that we can actually beat anyone in
this league. Playing with confidence is
what separates the teams out here."
struck up a friendship with a number of his fellow American players, including Darwin
Rogers (ArizonaState) Donnie King (Hawaii), Emory Polley (Brown) , Sean Draper (Iowa)
John Stanton (UNLV), , BJ Beatty (Colorado)
to name a few in addition to Jerry
Neuheisel who faced off against Porras when the Bruins played at Rice Stadium
playoff game will bring him face to face with another former rival, former
Louisiana Tech quarterback (Colby Cameron).
"It's been a
fun experience meeting these guys and getting to know them better off the field,"
Win or lose
on Saturday, Porras has collected a lifetime of memories while also reaching
his goal of continuing to play the game he has loved since childhood. He's also found a path for his
actually looking to focus on my own business that I am starting with my
girlfriend Mande Moses called The Power of 24.
We will be helping people from all walks of life change their limited
beliefs through motivational speaking, affirmation audio tapes, and coaching
through our subscription based website.
We are planning to launch our company by the beginning of next
year. I am extremely excited to help
others find their true passion and purpose in life."