Ryan Autullo of the Toledo Blade is reporting that Rockets WR Eric Page will enter the NFL draft. According to Autullo, Page was expected to announce his decision at a news conference on Thursday.
The Toledo wideout's decision comes as a surprise, after he assured Rockets fans that he was "100 percent" committed to returning for his senior year in the days leading up to the Military Bowl. Perhaps his 13-reception performance in the Military Bowl helped sway him toward the NFL, although he totaled just 59 receiving yards in Toledo's 42-41 win over Air Force. The dangerous return man also took a kickoff 87 yards to the house in that contest to give the Rockets a 21-7 lead.
According to a source cited by Autullo, the NFL draft advisory board informed Page that he likely would be selected between the third and fifth rounds of the 2012 draft if he decided to turn pro. A strong end to his ’11 season, in which he had 10 or more receptions in each of his last four games, and had 50 receptions combined in those four games, might have convinced him that he was ready for the NFL.
Howard Chen, the sports director at FOX Toledo, reports that a current NFL scout told FOX Toledo that it was not a good decision for Page, and that others in the league believe that he is more likely to be selected in Rounds 5-7.
Page's 9.46 yards per catch in 2011 point to a troubling lack of explosiveness, however, and whether or not the 5-10, 180-pound wideout can duplicate the feats of similarly sized Wes Welker as an effective short-yardage receiver in the NFL remains to be seen. His prowess as a kick returner and even as a quarterback for trick plays should give him a boost.
As a result of Page's decision to leave early, Ryan Broyles' NCAA record of 349 receptions seems safe for now. With his 306 career catches, Page was on pace to smash Broyles' record, but instead, he will leave with school records for receptions and yards. He is tied with current Saints WR Lance Moore for the school record with 25 TD catches.