Mitchell Paige and the search for a new slot receiver #iufb

Losing Shane Wynn and J-Shun Harris in one off-season doesn’t mean Ricky Jones is headed back to the slot.

Jones, a former slot receiver, is expected to remain on the outside, where he has been working almost exclusively since spring. That means Indiana will be looking elsewhere to replace Wynn, who graduated, and Harris, who is lost for the year after an ACL injury in June.

Newcomers Isaac James and Mike Majette, both of whom have been rumored as possible candidates to get some opportunities in the secondary, are in the mix at slot, as is redshirt junior Mitchell Paige. Senior Damon Graham, who has contributed mostly as a kick returner over the last two years, is also competing for a spot.

That allows Jones, who is finally healthy and the subject of a feature in Tuesday’s Herald-Times, to stay outside.

“With the summer that Mitchell Paige has had and some of those other guys — Damon Graham — we feel like we’re going to be OK,” IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. “We can just leave Ricky right where he is.”

Based off comments from Johns and Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, Paige sounds like a serious contender at the position. Things, of course, will become much clearer over the coming weeks.

Harris was a fixture in the slot as a freshman last fall, catching 18 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns — leading all returning receivers. Wynn also mixed time between the slot and the outside.

Paige walked on to the team in 2012 after a successful prep career at Guerin Catholic, where he was a two-time all-state selection and ended high school with 2,006 receiving yards, 965 rushing yards, 1,794 return yards and 37 touchdowns. Paige earned a scholarship during the spring and highlighted the semester with five catches for 96 yards in the spring game.

At the start of fall camp last week, Wilson said Paige has also been Indiana’s most consistent and savvy catcher in the return game.

Now, the 5-foot-7 Carmel native has an opportunity to break through on offense.

“Mitchell Paige is incredible because, when you look at him, he doesn’t look like a 6-4, Big Ten wide receiver,” Johns said. “But at the same time, he’s a scratch golfer, he’s a phenomenal basketball player, and when he steps on the football field he’s one of those wiggle guys that gets down the field and catches every thing you throw to him. He’s not Shane Wynn — he’s not as fast as Shane Wynn — but he’s extremely smart, he’s extremely talented with some savviness. He has a lot of redeeming qualities even though he’s not Shane Wynn. I know Nate (Sudfeld’s) fired up about him and the summer he’s had.”


  1. Good news about Paige as there is room on the field for someone that can get open and catch every pass. We sure need this group to do more that last year’s group did as the drops were slowing the offense down. I hope one of the things they are working on too is getting open and creating separation from defenders. The QB can’t throw it to you if you aren’t open.

    This offense can be exciting this year as we have RBs that can power run for four or five yards but we also have RBs with the ability to break away like Tevine did. If the TEs and WRs step up and do their jobs in the passing game opponents defenses will be stressed to the max and have problems shutting our offense down.

  2. Some live in a dream world….defenses stressed to the max…. a game or 2 a year….but where have you been during IU football history? Just win some fb games.

  3. V13,

    You are exactly right. The O both run and passing this year will be much more like 2013 than anything such as 2014’s run only. Some folks can’t see trees in a forest.

  4. I had to chuckle while reading the headline in USA Today’s Sports section listing De La Salle of Concord, California as the #1 ranked High School Football team in the USA. How could those “soft” boys from California produce the #1 ranked HS football team in the country? How could those “soft” boys in California have four of the top 25 ranked HS teams in the country? Not enough “blue collar” kids in California? Those claims still makes me LOL! And I noticed that 13 of the top 25 ranked HS football teams in the country are from the states of California, Florida and Texas. Should IU Football maintain a recruiting presence in those states? Or should we remain limited to our traditional recruiting geographies? The states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio have a total of two High School teams amongst the USA Today’s top 25, both of which are in Ohio. And those states have six other Big Ten teams competing for those kids’ commitment. If IU wants to continue improving its football recruiting, it has to expand its efforts to those areas of the country where there is more talent and less competition from other power-conference football programs. Need money to do that? Just ask Crean to transfer some of his recruiting budget to Wilson. In the long run, that investment will generate a greater return for IU Athletics.

  5. Polls?…rankings? Who cares? You put up, or shut up. Bill Walton got a lot of attention and headlines when Downing kicked his soft ass in an NCAA game that put IU and Knight on the national map. California is soft.

  6. And didn’t Alford get repeatedly referred to as a “soft” coach on this blog? How often was he ridiculed for his “soft” credentials only worthy a place like New Mexico….? Well, he’s now at UCLA…I guess soft finally found soft.
    Could it be time for a trade deal? We send our solid stud of a hoops coach and our Days of Our Lives QB off to California in exchange for a soft UCLA basketball coach and a couple of those soft h.s. football studs not the twig offspring of soap stars as the cherry on top?

  7. Yeah. How many titles did that little wuss, Walton, ever win?

    I like Alford. He seems to be a pretty good coach. The biggest issue that kept him out of Bloomington was that he would be impossible to fire.

  8. Downing took him to school. ..and his “title” against Indiana is tainted with the smell of a fix job. It’s why he hates Alford….He hates anything that is a reminder of Knight because he knows in his heart Downing outplayed him..He knows Bobby out-coached his “Wizard” head-to-head, and he knows the ref’s whistle that night was paid for like a Denver hotel maid for Koby. Walton is a jealous blowbag and a massive wuss. Never even had the class to admit what a hell of job Downing did against him. California is soft.

    Crean is the guy that has us chained to his millions in contracts because he hired his own AD.

  9. T, I am amazed how many on the internet can’t read with comprehension. If you want to tell everyone IU needs to start winning games [as we all agree] before talking about what they need to do to excel then say so. You seem to ignore all the conditions I pointed out that IU’s offense needed to do to be able to stress defenses to the max. The 2013 offense did a good job of that but defensively coach Mallory couldn’t design a D to slow anyone down except for PSU. If you deny IU’s record setting offense stressed defenses then you need to review the year to see plenty of points were scored and defenses couldn’t stop IU but did slow them down just enough to win. Teams worried about how they were going to stop IU they just knew they would score enough to defeat IU.

    Yes we all know the football team needs to start winning games and having winning seasons. That doesn’t keep the team from accomplishing great things before rising to the level of beating the big boys.

  10. Yes a turn over here and there and not being able to convert in critical situations are also a part of that year in review. IU offense often played well. Scored a bunch against ISU Sycamores, Bowling Greene, Navy was defensive disaster, Missouri not bad, Michigan State not bad, scored a bunch against Mich, Illinois, and Gophers, Badgers and Buckeyes not so much/Offensive Disasters, Really good Purdue score. Good for average in pre conference and below average in conference. One of the very much better years offensively….But one year does not make a century worth of history.

  11. Are we a 3rd string OSU football team yet? Wake me when that happens..Otherwise, set my alarm for a week before the college basketball season begins. August to to mid-November is hibernation season in Bloomington. It is a time when students gather all the berries and kindling cannabis and retreat to overly air-conditioned dorm rooms filled with warming cloud fires, peace pipes, and posters of Charlotte McKinney in g-string….It is a time to mostly fall asleep in a good chemistry book and dream of ‘Breaking Away’ movie scenes of McKinney drooped over a set of unusually low rolled handlebars…. and a Hoosier hoops team that will one day also know chemistry. Hope winters eternal ….Win Today….Basketball tomorrow.

  12. PO- I respectfully beg to differ re: geography of latest recruiting. It seems a lot of the latest signees have been from the south/southeast (plus the UAB transfers). Look at the IU roster and you hardly see any lads from the 6 million pop. base in Cook County and the Region (only an afternoon’s drive distant). I concur that that there is gobs of talent in populous states such as Tex., Calif., Florida, but yeah, it’s silliness to say that any area/state is “soft.” Just ’cause kids in the Midwest have to shovel snow out of the alley as part of their chores does not make them better football players. USC is (or at least was) known for cranking out great tailbacks, but OJ and Marcus would have gone nowhere without those road graders on the Trojan O-line. They never appeared very soft to me.

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