For Michigan DE, patience pays off

When National Signing Day rolled around almost a full month ago, Birmingham (MI) Seaholm defensive end Neal Page had options on the table, with a number of scholarship offers already on the table. It was about that time, however, that the BCS programs began calling - and Sunday the Kansas Jayhawks landed the versatile pass-rushing threat.

Neal Page is proof that good things come to those who wait.

When National Signing Day rolled around almost a full month ago, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound defensive end from Birmingham (MI) Seaholm had options on the table, with offers from programs such as Akron and Illinois State.

But that's when the BCS programs started calling. Illinois, Michigan State, Syracuse…all showed interest. But the Kansas Jayhawks stepped forward with an offer Feb. 10, and the athletic pass-rusher knew instantly he wanted to visit.

"I made the commitment I was going to take the visit down there even though I was on another visit (an unofficial to Illinois) when they offered," Page said. "I was confident to hold out and see what other opportunities lie for me there."

As it turns out, he found the opportunities in Lawrence, Kan. to be numerous, and at the conclusion of an official visit this weekend gave his commitment to Head Coach Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks.

There were a number of factors that led to his decision, as one might expect. Page enjoyed the campus and soaked in the atmosphere during Saturday's thrilling edition of the Border War between Kansas and Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse - but the coaches may have been the key.

"The coaching staff is absolutely incredible," he said. "In my humble opinion, and I may be a little bit biased, but they're one of the best in the country. Coach Weis has brought in a fabulous staff for this coming year."

While on campus, he and his father - who accompanied him on the trip - spent a significant time with linebackers coach DeMontie Cross, who indicated the Jayhawks would like to use him as a type of hybrid defensive end and linebacker.

"I'll be able to come off hard on the edge whether my hand is down or it's not," Page said. "Just to get after it like I do and to really benefit them in that aspect."

When his plane touched down Friday night, he wanted to be able to make a decision by visit's end. And by Saturday, it was evident to him that Kansas was where he was meant to be.

He couldn't sign his National Letter of Intent on campus, so it was Priority A upon returning home Sunday night.

"It was quite surreal, until the pen hit the paper," Page said. "After that, it was all excitement and relief and knowing this is going to be the place, and that it is absolutely the right place."

As a senior in 2011, Page recorded eight sacks, 13 tackles for loss and three touchdowns - two via fumble return and one on special teams. He is Seaholm's career leader in defensive line tackles (203), as well as tackles for loss and quarterback pressures. His 20.5 career sacks rank him third in school history.


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