Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Rockets weigh novel role for Page


Four games into his freshman season, Eric Page leads the Rockets with 26 receptions, 433 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season as a wide receiver.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Eric Page used to be a Blue Devil. Now he's a Rocket. In the future he might be a Wildcat.

The University of Toledo wide receiver and former Springfield Blue Devil has proven to be quite the playmaker four games into his freshman season.

Page leads the Rockets in receptions (26), receiving yards (433) and touchdowns (4), despite never playing wideout before this year.

At Springfield, Page racked up 8,800 yards of offense in his career as a quarterback, and he could be returning behind center before too long.

UT coach Tim Beckman said he's considering using Page in the "Wildcat" formation - the in vogue scheme in football right now that makes use of the quarterback as a running threat on select plays.

"He's a freshman, so we want to make sure that he is learning his position first before we give him too much," Beckman said. "But he's responded well with the things that we've asked him to do, so that could definitely be something in the foreseeable future."

Page has seen his role with the Rockets continue to expand since his breakout performance in a season-opening 52-31 loss at Purdue. He had a UT freshman-record 12 catches for 128 yards, along with a show-stopping 34-yard TD catch that was a SportsCenter Top 10 play that night on ESPN.

For an encore, Page finished with three catches for a season-high 138 yards, including a 70-yard TD catch in the first quarter, in a 54-38 upset of Colorado in his Glass Bowl debut.

Last weekend in a 41-31 victory at Florida International, Page reeled in a season-high two touchdowns and once again went over the 100-yard mark. He also was back to return his first punt, which resulted in a four-yard gain

in the fourth quarter.

"He has surprised me. Definitely," senior quarterback Aaron Opelt said. "I can't say I knew this was coming, but we were out here in the summer and he came in and I was throwing to him and I don't think he dropped a ball. So I told him I'd take him out to dinner, and he ended up dropping one on the next day.

"I knew he had great hands, but I really didn't see how elusive he was until Purdue. He's quick. His feet are always underneath him. I would hate to try to tackle him."

Entering the season, the Rockets knew they had to find a No. 2 option in the passing attack to complement senior wideout Stephen Williams.

Several names were mentioned, but Page has done his talking on the field.

"It's amazing he keeps it up every week," Williams said. "You could see in [training] camp that he was going to be an excellent receiver, but getting into the games and making so many plays, it's a good feeling seeing Eric Page step up and get all this recognition right now."

Page was unavailable for comment this week because freshmen are barred from speaking with the media under Beckman.

But Williams was able to offer a behind-the-curtain glimpse of Page and his demeanor.

"He's a real quiet dude," Williams said. "He's coming out of his shell a little bit now. When we first came in, he was real quiet but now he's telling jokes a little bit. When [the media] finally gets to talk to him, you'll see he's kind of shy. But he's a competitor."

As for using Page in the Wildcat - as the Rockets have done on a few occasions earlier in the season with redshirt freshman backup quarterback David Pasquale - Opelt gives his thumbs-up.

"The way Eric Page is with the ball, I think anytime you can get the ball in his hands it'd be a benefit to us," Opelt said. "That's the kind of player he is."

Contact Zach Silka


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