Today the Los Angeles Chargers announced that they signed former IU wide receiver/kick returner/grit lord Mitchell Paige to a rookie free agent deal.
Paige began his career at IU as a walk-on out of Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville, Indiana, and redshirted for the 2012 season. He made a handful of appearances over the 2013 and 2014 seasons, where he played mainly on special teams, but got some time at wide receiver.
Paige earned his scholarship in preseason camp before the 2015 season, and proceeded to have a breakout junior campaign, where he caught a team-leading six touchdowns and racked up 684 receiving yards. He had four games where he accumulated at least 90 receiving yards, including one 100-yard game against Rutger. Paige also starred on special teams as a punt returner and he scored two touchdowns, including a 91-yard return against Western Kentucky. He was rewarded for his efforts on special teams as he was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten as a punt returner
He kept his great play going into the 2016 season, where he was again one of IU’s top receivers, totaling 646 yards and four touchdowns on 58 receptions. Paige was one of the top receivers in the Big Ten as well, where he finished fifth in receptions and 12th in yardage. He was recognized for his great efforts once again, as he was a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, a member of the Wuerffel trophy watch list, and a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award.
Though he isn’t one of the most physically impressive candidates in this year’s draft class, Mitchell Paige has shown time and again that he can get the job done as a slot receiver. For a player of his stature to finish in the top 10 in receptions in the Big Ten each of the last two years is no small feat. Paige’s solid hands and quickness give him an advantage, especially as a threat over the middle of the field. While he won’t be a big play guy for any NFL team, he can show a lot of value as a third-down player who isn’t scared of taking a hit if it means getting a crucial first down.
Over the years, Paige has also shown tremendous work ethic, which is something that can help him make a name for himself in the highly competitive environment of an NFL training camp. He made the IU team as a walk-on and was willing to redshirt a year, then proceeded to play his way on to the field and eventually in the starting lineup. Paige’s willingness to put in the long, tough hours finally paid dividends in 2015, where he earned his scholarship in preseason camp. Mitchell Paige is a solid rookie free agent pickup, and the Chargers are lucky to have him.