Georgia Receiver Desires BYU Experience

BYU provides a unique experience for student athletes, putting a heavy emphasis on morals and values in addition to academics and athletics. Some shy away from the expectations the school places on its student athletes, while others seek those expectations out.

Sherman Paige, a 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound wide receiver from Georgia, is one such person that is seeking the BYU experience – despite the fact that he isn't a member of the LDS faith.

"I'm really interested in Brigham Young University for a couple of different reasons," said Paige. "I want to study either business management or exercise science, and I know that BYU's business management program is currently ranked 31st according to The U.S. and World News Report. The two things listed on [BYU's] website was their deep appreciation for and love of God, and their appreciation for the sacredness of the human body. One thing I really like about that is I love my body and I take it very serious as an athlete. So, no smoking or drinking are things I take very seriously.

"I just want to be around good-character kids and people like myself. Character is who you are and I understand that Coach Mendenhall is a big character guy and wants to develop his football players to be that way. That is the type of coach I want to be around and learn from. I just feel that BYU would be the best place for me in every aspect. With that being said, BYU has a very good football program as well, so those are some of the reasons why I've sought out Brigham Young University in the hopes that maybe I can be a part of that program."

"I know Sherman is very interested in becoming a student athlete at BYU," said Sherman's father Neil Hill. "My wife is excited about the controlled environment and a chance for him to grow holistically as well as him growing as an athlete and student while reinforcing our values of family – you know, no premarital sex, drinking or anything of that nature and just be at a place that espouses the development of being a good citizen and great individual character. We as a family have entertained the idea of him staying close to home where we could see him play here, but when you're talking about a program like BYU, you're looking at a program that develops players not only in the next level of football but in life."

Paige, who graduated this past year, played for a Buford High School program that has won 96 percent of its games under Coach Simpson. Buford has won three straight state championships and six overall in the past decade.

Buford utilizes an offense that primarily operates out of the power-I formation. Yet despite being a wide receiver in a run-oriented offense, Paige had a very successful career.

"I'm a gym rat and I love to work out," Paige said. "My forty time as of this summer was a 4.47 and my vertical was 41 inches ... I broke the reception record for my school last year. The record was 39 catches in 15 games. I think I broke that record in 11 games and ended the season with 56 catches for 800 yards.

"I broke P.K. Sam's record, who played for Florida State and then went on to play for the Ravens and then the Patriots I believe. He had around 39 catches for 1,000 yards. I had 20 more catches than he did and broke his record. I also have the record for the most catches in a single game with nine, I believe."

What is even more amazing about Paige's accomplishments is the major hurdle he had to overcome to achieve them. Prior to setting new Buford records, he suffered what was nearly a career-ending injury.

"I was running my forty two years ago and I didn't stretch like I should have," Paige recalled. "I was moving too fast and trying to do too much at once, and that's how I broke my hip. I realized then that football could be taken away from me at any moment. I understand that football is only temporary and can be taken away from you at any moment."

"We thought his career was over after he broke his hip," said Hill. "The muscle pulled the bone away from the bone, as the doctors were kind of explaining to us. We were really concerned for him in the early stages, but we got with some really good doctors and Sherman is a trooper. He's a really tough kid and we prayed about it, and he has since returned from injury and is 100 percent. He's actually running faster now than he's ever ran.

"Football is only but a short period of your life and Sherman understands that it was almost taken away from him. Football is only a vehicle to get to a better place, and Sherman understands that and plays with a passion because it was taken away from him for eight months."

Paige was being recruited by some very notable college football programs earlier on, but the recruiting process quickly came to a halt.

"After I broke my hip, most of the schools backed away from me," Paige said. "Schools like Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State all backed off of me after that. Kansas State and Ohio State were sending me letters and stuff, but Florida State was the more serious school recruiting me. I went down to one of their camps after the summer when I broke my hip. Coach Fisher told my dad that they wanted me to run during their camp, but the doctor told me not to run the forty or do anything like that. Coach Fisher told my dad that they would offer me a scholarship if I ran the forty and participated, but I couldn't. After that, mostly Division II schools just took a chance at me."

One such school that has gone after Paige is West Georgia, located about 50 miles west of Atlanta.

"I wasn't sure if any other opportunities would come up, so I'm currently committed to there now," said Paige. "Right now, I'm just trying to find out if there are other opportunities out there for me. I don't report to West Georgia ‘til August, so I'm trying to find a home at a Division I school, preferably Brigham Young University."

"I'm going to do everything that is asked of me," Hill said about helping his son achieve that goal. "My wife and I told Sherman at a young age, 'As long you take care of the things you're supposed to take care of in life, we'll do everything that we can to facilitate your dreams.' We're going to get the film, and if we need to fly out there we'll do that. We'll do what we need to do to help facilitate his chance of attending BYU. What's exciting for us as parents is knowing that even though our son would be a thousand miles away, he is in an environment that is conducive for him being successful as a young man."

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