It’s the holiday season and for U.S. Army All-American receiver Ahmad Paige (6-2, 165) that means lots of travel. In the next few weeks he will make an official visit to USC, play in the US Army All-American Bowl, visit FSU and then take one more trip to Florida. At some point he will find the time to make a final decision about where he’s going to school next year.
Paige is still talking about Florida’s electrifying win over Arkansas for the Southeasetern Conference championship last weekend. The rangy, athletic wide receiver from Sterlington, LA watched the entire game on television and there’s no question which team he was cheering on.
“Those guys had me going crazy,” Paige said. “Florida is the place for wide receivers. It is a place where they can play a bunch of receivers. They have a group that can really make plays.”
One thing really shocked Paige and that was the brass stones of the Gator’s Head Coach Urban Meyer who went for it with a fake punt on a third and long deep into his own territory. Paige almost missed the play.
“That really amazed me,” he said. “I was really mad when they got behind and then had to punt. I almost didn’t even see it, because I was about to turn it, then I just went, ‘Wow’.”
Paige is well aware of the fickle media and the attention they paid to the Gators. The Gators were ranked in the top four of the polls for the last few weeks but never given any chance to make a name for themselves. Now the Gators seem to have become the latest media darling.
“It seemed like before that game everyone was saying that Florida was inconsistent and didn’t always play well,” Paige said. “Then they went out there and proved it to the world. Now there are some people talking like they will beat Ohio State and it sounds like everyone jumping on the band wagon.”
Does all of this attention and notoriety mean that Paige is going to take even a closer look at Florida?
“It kind of makes me look harder,” he answered. “It certainly seems like when they play in the big game they are going to get some of the better recruits. Everyone will look at it like I want to go there and win a national championship. With them going there this year, it just means they have the potential to get another ring. That is the ultimate goal and with my speed being my number one thing, Florida has speed all over the place. I would want to be a part of that.”
A month ago Paige was committed to Florida State. Since then, the Noles capped off a 6-6 regular season, fired their offensive coordinator who happens to be the receiver’s coach as well as the head coach’s son, and received a bid to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco (CA). With all the turmoil, he no longer considers himself to be a Florida State commitment.
“I committed too early and they have some questions about their staff,” he said.
So, what does he think of FSU now?
“There’s not much to think really,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to stay positive when you see USC and Florida in the BCS. USC had a shot at the championship game and Florida is in it. It kind of casts a shadow on Florida State. But they tell me they want me to come down there and they will get some more big recruits and I definitely believe them. It’s just hard to stay positive when they fire the receivers coach. Not having a receivers coach makes it even worse.”
The USC Trojans are the other team on the table and Paige hasn’t seen for himself what all the fuss is about. Just talking to him, it is easy to hear that he does want to see what goes on in Hollywood.
“I can’t really say much about them, because I really don’t know,” he started. “They are just a name. I will know more about them when I get down there.”
The recruiting of USC has almost become legendary of late. Paige lists a few things the staff has pushed on him about what it would be like to be a Trojan.
“They just show me what they have done and what they produce,” he said. “They produce first round draft picks, every year they have Heisman candidates. Then they have the L.A. life, which sounds great. I just have to see it for myself.”
He has already visited Florida officially, but will make a return trip in mid January with his parents to check out the school. He still has two official visits left to take.
“I am going to visit USC on December 15th,” he said. “I will be at Florida State on the 13th, but I will visit Florida with my mom after that. I am pretty sure we are coming down in the middle of January.”