Paige welcomes fresh start

Adds 15 pounds, tries to forget unproductive freshman season

Ahmad Paige couldn't have imagined a worse first year at Tennessee.

The standout football player from Monroe, La. quickly learned in preseason camp that he was woefully behind UT's veteran receivers, admittedly tanked during the season, then was cited for possession of marijuana just days before the Vols were to complete their 2008 class on National Signing Day.

A year to forget? Sort of.

"I've matured tremendously," Paige said. "I didn't want it to happen but it was a good thing that it happened."

August practices began the season of Paige's discontent. Just 165 pounds, he quickly learned that he was playing against stronger and bigger athletes than the ones he mastered in high school.

The speed and quickness that helped him become one of the top receiver prospects in the nation was rarely showcased in college.

"Back then, I didn't do anything right," Paige said. "I couldn't get off press (coverage). I wasn't strong. I wasn't really confident in myself so I couldn't do the things I was capable of doing."

That's when, playing-wise, Paige hit a low point.

"I know I kind of tanked it at the end," Paige said of last season. "That was a mistake. I messed up. I paid for it the whole year."

No longer. Paige's dedication to his craft is obvious by his new build. Although he'll never be confused for a middle linebacker, Paige has added 15 pounds of muscle, weighing 180.

To bulk up, Paige had to lay off his love - sweets. Instead, he ate well-rounded meals and hit the weight room.

Paige initially resisted the change. He had long been afraid that adding weight would slow him down. A season of being stuck at the line of scrimmage and easily redirected by defensive backs changed his mind.

"That's a concern anytime you have a light receiver," offensive coordinator Dave Clawson said. "You need the ability to be strong enough to get off press coverage."

Receivers coach Latrell Scott said Paige has had a solid spring. Scott said he doesn't expect Paige to ever be a hulking 200-pound receiver, but being stronger is a must. Otherwise, ability isn't a question.

"He's got every physical tool in the world to make him successful in this league," Scott said.

Amidst training for spring practice came a mistake that Paige said enlightened him. It came when his car, which was being driven by teammate Gerald Jones, was found to contain a small mount of marijuana. Both were given a citation by police.

The incident was one of a string of off-field events that brought scrutiny on UT's program, coaches and players included.

"You're not in high school anymore," Paige said. "We learned that. Everything you do is under a microscope."

In many ways, 2008 is a fresh start for Paige. He has a new system to learn, new coaches to impress and a new outlook.

"Now, it's kind of different," Paige said. "I'm more confident in what I'm doing."

Paige still has plenty of receivers to pass on the depth chart before he catches a pass in a game. Regardless, he's expecting a much better year in 2008.

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Comments » 27

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

Good to hear a story about a player we never hear about. Let's hope he has learned his lesson.

volmattna writes:

keep working hard ahmad

pdhuff#552644 writes:

True, nicksjuz 11:54 - he must have been off the radar.

But great to see he's making the effort to become better on and off the field. Maybe he'll get some playing time.

superk#226173 writes:

Odd how a brush with the law and zero playtime within a span of 3 months or so makes you a much more mature,heavier,hungrier,better person.Kind of like the convicted felon getting ready to go to the chair talking about his new found religion.

FlushTheJohn writes:

How much is "a small MOUNT of Marijuana"? Is that a small mountain John Adams? Or is this supposed to say "Amount". Yet another error not caught buy the editor! THE NEWS SENTINAL NEEDS A CHANGE AT THE TOP!

Fire John Adams!

Silent_Fulmer writes:

who?

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Paige is behind Rogers, Taylor, Briscoe, Jones, Hancock, and probably Darnius Moore. I am glad we are getting articles about who is probably are 6th best WR at this point though who will have less than 15 catches this year.

MrBamSeydu writes:

FlushTheJohns: NERD ALERT!!

Dude, did you seriously just waste your time complaining about a typo of a missed "a"? You're totally setting off my Gay-dar over here.

Laydbakvol writes:

Come now children, Fight nice!

GreerVol22 writes:

yemm, I agree. However, could "a small mount" be a Freudian slip?

givehim6 writes:

You know I do not want to be negative, but the guy was underweight, immature, got winded easy. Why did we recrit him? Hope he does grow up, and it does't take 3 years for him to do it.

bigbluevol writes:

workin, it's actually denarius moore. Paige has, according to many reports, been very impressive in the offseason from gaining the 15 pounds to the work he has done in drills and what not. Now, the key is what kind of transition that makes to the field where it matters. He is a very fast receiver who was said to run the best routes of anyone last year. His weight, inability to get off press coverage and his lack of confidence clearly hurt him. However, he may be the dynamic deep threat that we are looking for.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Yeah, and Kenny Oneal and Brent Vinson tore up 7 on 7 drills all last summer. He'll have less than 15 cathes this year. Book it.

FlushTheJohn writes:

yemmusdarb

Just nitpicking on John Adams like he likes to nitpick Phil Fulmer over former players and such. If you think John and his crew are doing a good job, maybe that explains why you have this so called "Gay-Dar". Is this some device you use to help find a homosexual mate for yourself? If so, stay the heck away from me!!!

I hear John Adams putts from the rough, maybe you should point your "Gay-dar" at him. He would probably like that.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

FlushTheJohns-

I don't like this Adams guy either, but if you're going to dink the KNS staff for spelling errors, you shouldn't have them in your post.

buy = to purchase something.

by = a preposition that denotes an object's origin.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Kelly Washington is like the only "freshman" to ever have over 20 catches his first year. I think Jason Swain has the next highest at 18 and then Cedrick Wilson had around 15 or so. Paige at 6th on the depth chart is not going to catch more than 15 passes this year most likely. I did enjoy the article on him though.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Good article. I'm glad to see the guy taking it seriously. Hopefully he'll have a BIG catch or two in a BIG game or two, like against Florida!!!!! It sure would be nice to beat those guys again.

IBleedOrange444 writes:

Kelly Washington under-performed at UT. He was like another James Banks except he still had the talent to make an NFL roster. I hope Paige turns out nothing like those two.

bigbluevol writes:

For the record, I'm not saying Paige will be a star this year. He could be, but he also might not be. The point is that he has the potential and he has been a much buzzed about player. That's probably what prompted the article. We'll see what he can do on the field.

orangebloodgmc writes:

I could see that Paige could start season in top 5 of our receivers, if not top 4. By end of season, someone will get hurt, he'll get more playing time and he might end up with 20 or more catches, counting bowl game, although his early value will be in yds per catch and td/catch ratio.

CoverOrange writes:

IMO, Clausen, like Tee, would have played in the NC game if two other players hadn't dropped the ball at inopportune times and the defensive line hadn't caved in to a second string QB.

IMO, Clausen, like Ainge, had a better freshman year than senior year. I attribute that to coaching of RS. Fortunately, Erik rebounded from his sophmore low point.

Washington, had a better work ethic than anyone on the team at that time (according to one KNS writer). How coming up with a stupid nickname makes him a "cancer" I don't know. What else did he do that you personally know he did to disrupt the team?

burntorangeVOLffle writes:

Rogers has the potential to be the Wes Wlker for the Vols next year.

volunteer_cowboy writes:

burntorange are we watching the same 2 receivers

volunteer_cowboy writes:

and bamacheats, rogers playes because he is good enough to play and for no other reason

pdhuff#552644 writes:

sjt18 - how they hangin', my friend? You ready for some serious doldrums once the epic O/W game is over?

How many receivers will catch a ball at O/W?

Will Poole get a carry?

TommyJack writes:

ROFL

invisiblekid writes:

Stats don't mean a thing in the O&W game, David Yancey being a case in point. He is in the O&W Game Hall of Fame and only saw the field a few times when it counted. Things I look for are solid fundamentals and to see if any of the young guys have any breakout ability.

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