Immediately after wide receiver Mitchell Paige’s NFL Pro Day inside John Mellencamp Pavilion on Friday, the receiver said he didn’t know what his measurements were.
He didn’t know his 40-yard dash was 4.52 seconds. He didn’t know that his vertical jump was 31.5 inches or that his broad jump was 9 feet and 8 inches. He didn’t know his 3-cone pro agility or his 60-yard shuttle times either.
All the former Hoosier walk-on knew was that he did his best to show 30 NFL scouts in Bloomington that he can play at the next level.
“I don’t know what happened with clocks or what the scouts thought,” Paige said. “Personally, I thought I did as well as I was going to do. I’m just happy for it to be over. It was a long process since early January.”
After IU lost to Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl on Dec. 28, Paige got to work preparing for a potential NFL Combine invitation and his NFL Pro Day put on by IU.
The Combine invite didn’t come for Paige like it did for teammates Devine Redding and Dan Feeney, but Paige, along with seven other Hoosiers including Redding and Feeney, got the opportunity to showcase their abilities at the Pro Day.
Paige said he knew he wasn’t going to blow any scouts away with a 4.2 40-yard time but said he was comfortable that he’d do enough.
“Once I got on the field and once I get on the field and get a chance, it’s back to square one where I was here, being a guy that’s got a lot of work to do,” Paige said.
Paige is used to not being the eye-popping prospect on any given team.
The 5-foot-7 receiver had no Division I offers when he graduated from Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville, Indiana, in 2013. He weighed less than 150 pounds but got an invitation to IU’s walk-on camp and landed a spot on the program’s roster.
By the time he finished in Bloomington, Paige recorded a total of 115 receptions for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons as a starting receiver. In other capacities, Paige returned two punts for touchdowns, took one reverse handoff for a touchdown, passed to quarterback Richard Lagow for a touchdown and held kicks periodically in 2015 and 2016 for rising senior kicker Griffin Oakes.
Beyond the field, Paige was the pulse of the team. The receiver dropped an overtime touchdown pass against Michigan to lose to the Wolverines in 2015. He took the blame when former IU Coach Kevin Wilson wouldn’t place it on him, and he stayed forward-looking and optimistic after the loss.
IU then nearly won the Pinstripe Bowl against Duke in New York City.
Paige was also the first player the media turned to in regard to Lagow’s struggles in 2016. The slot receiver supported his quarterback throughout the entire season and even cheered for him during a postgame interview after the loss to Penn State when he yelled “Let’s go, Rich” while the transfer was answering questions.
Paige has always been heralded by his coaches and teammates for his off-the-field capabilities. They come easy to him. Anyone can tell by the way he ran around the weight room and the turf field of John Mellencamp Pavilion on Saturday while cheering on his teammates as they faced the same pressure he was facing.
“It was a lot of pressure, walking out here seeing everything set up and the bleachers, but then you look back at my mom, my sister, my dad and best friends over there, and it was just another day,” Paige said.
Paige said in the last few months when he wasn’t playing Guitar Hero and Rocket League in Indianapolis, he was training for this showcase — the Pro Day that gets him as close to NFL scouts as he will be before the NFL Draft on April 27.
The draft process has been stressful for Paige because he’s hard on himself and wants to be the best, the receiver said.
At the very least, he wants a chance in the NFL.
“I’m not a track star,” Paige said. “Whatever I’m doing, just let myself do it. Whatever they want me to do, need me to do to get me a chance, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
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