Wideout Ahmad Paige was a U.S. Army All-American after recording 2,071 receiving yards during his final two seasons at Sterlington High School in Monroe, La.
Paige redshirted as a Vol freshman in 2007. Though voted Most Improved Offensive Player last spring, he failed to record a single varsity catch in '08. He did, however, catch five balls for 93 yards in helping the Vol junior varsity beat Hargrave Military 37-21 last fall.
Despite his slow start at UT, Paige was viewed as a possible breakout player for 2009 until he suffered a major setback earlier this spring.
The 6-1, 177-pound rising sophomore sustained a minor neck injury slamming into the brick wall behind the South end zone at Neyland Stadium in the Vols' third practice of the spring. X-rays at UT Medical Center revealed no serious damage but Paige missed some valuable practice time during his recovery.
With Tennessee installing a new passing scheme, Paige fell way behind the other wide receivers during his absence. Since returning to action his progress is being measured in baby steps.
“It's slow. It's really slow,” Vol receivers coach Frank Wilson said. “We're going to stick with him, keep being positive with him, keep coaching him up. The injury put him behind a little bit.
“He's competing, he's trying, he's working his butt off, so we just need to keep encouraging him and trying to get him caught up.”