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On senior night, Paul Debnam keeps it lighthearted

Senior walk-on Paul Debnam is Virginia Tech's comic relief.

A crowd favorite with a megawatt smile? The jersey-popping bench warmer? The unseen glue that helps keep the Hokies together? That's Debnam, who will join Lewis Witcher on Wednesday as seniors playing their final regular season game at Cassell Coliseum when the Hokies take on North Carolina State.

"Paul is like Father Time," Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said. "He’s a voice of reason. He’s a voice of comic relief. He’s like a cartoon character, and he’s living and breathing."

For as sage as the 22 year old might be, Debnam is undeniably the outspoken jester of the Virginia Tech roster. His is the voice echoing in the gym during practice, when he attempts shots during warmups or in the spare moments when he enters games; he has appeared in eight games this season.

But Debnam is more than just the senior class clown. He's also an important, if publicly unseen, player who helps keep the team tight. In fact, it is usually Debnam in the middle of the team's pregame huddle, dancing around or mugging around in a Jabbawockeez mask.

"He's a great guy off the court," Hokies swingman Terrell Bell said of Debnam. "He's friends with everybody; he doesn't have no problems with nobody. He brings the juniors and the freshmen together. At dinner he'll sit with both."

Laughing, Bell said that Debnam, a popular figure on campus, gets more recognition than he does when the two go out or meet people on campus. "Everybody knows Paul," Bell said with a smile. "People will approach Paul before they approach me. It's like, man, Paul hasn't played 10 minutes all year."

But perhaps on senior night, the fun-loving Debnam will get more minutes to match his outsize personality.

By Mark Viera  |  March 3, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
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