For Ahmad Paige a tough decision lies ahead. Paige, from Sterlington (La.) High School, is one of the nation’s most sought after high school football prospects. This U.S. Army All-American wide receiver had previously been committed to Florida State.
“I really liked the overall approach of Florida State,” said Paige. “This is a school with so much tradition. I like the offense and love the people, especially guys like Ron Duggans. It’s like a big family there and I felt right at home.”
But since his decision back in the summer things have changed. Things have changed for Paige and things have certainly changed for FSU.
“It’s a down year at Florida State. Jeff Bowden stepped down. That obviously worries me because he is their Offensive Coordinator and Wide Receiver Coach. There will be more changes.”
Even before the Jeff Bowden decision last week, Paige made the decision to visit other schools despite being committed to the Seminoles. Paige sees it as a blessing in disguise.
“I am so glad I visited other schools (Georgia, Tennessee and Florida) and I have a backup plan. This will definitely be a hard decision. I will just wake the wait and see approach.”
Paige considered himself a soft commitment and visited the Dawgs (10-14), Vols (10-21) and Gators (11-11). At one time, he thought he was a bad omen, as Georgia lost to Tennessee on his visit to Athens and Tennessee lost to LSU on his visit to Knoxville. “I still had great visits. At least Florida won.”
Paige’s first official visit was to the University of Georgia. There, he was impressed with what so many recruits are impressed with when visiting Athens.
“I was there for the Tennessee game and the fans were crazy. Georgia is a great school going in the right direction. I mean they are headed up. They have one of the top recruiting classes in the country and a great young quarterback (Matthew Stafford). He will do great things there. I also love the coaching staff. They are all great Christian people.”
His next trip was to Tennessee. The Vols may have lost a close one to LSU but Paige still walked away impressed with Tennessee.
“I had so much fun there. The coaches promised that they would take care of me and they certainly did. Tennessee is true to their word. It is like all family there. The players are so close nit. (LaMarcus) Coker said to me that if you ever need anything you can count on your teammates at Tennessee. They really help each other out”
His third visit was to the University of Florida where he finally saw the home team win.
“Now you want to talk about crazy? That’s the fans at Florida. I have never seen anything like that when they played South Carolina. It was electrifying. The Swamp is unreal and crazy. UF is a beautiful place. They could play for the National Championship this season. Of all the schools I am looking at I think Florida’s offense best fits me. They spread it around and guys with my style fit in so well.
All of my visits were great but that one was the best.”
Paige, 6-2 and 165 pounds, runs away from people, shows separation and a great burst. He really knows how to catch with his hands and not his body. Paige is the type of the receiver that can beat with so many ways - deep, over the middle or take the short pass the distance. He also shows very good concentration and makes the difficult catch look easy. If there is a knock to Paige it would have to be his over size (weight). But with hard work in the weight room he will fill out nicely.
Paige’s final two official visits will go to USC and Florida State. He was hoping to visit Southern Cal this weekend but it looks like he will attend the FSU/Florida game in Tallahassee instead. Only Paige doesn’t know if it will be an official or unofficial visit just yet.
“I was hoping to make it to USC this weekend but we are in the playoffs and it may be tough. I will likely go to the game in Tallahassee.”
Sterlington (10-2) plays St. Charles in the state quarterfinals this weekend. So far this season Paige has 34 receptions for 730 yards and 10 touchdown receptions. He also has a kick return for a score. “I could have played better this season. I knew I had to come in prepared. Teams tried to take me away but I made big plays when my team needed them.”
So with the season winding down and three visits in the book, what will Paige do?
“Right now I am open. I will take my visits to FSU and USC and see what happens. I will see where I fit in the best and see what place is best for me away from the game. Football will always be there and take care of itself but what’s important is academics and all the off the field stuff. With all of these great programs I can’t go wrong.”