KNOXVILLE - Wide receiver Ahmad Paige has decided to leave the University of Tennessee football program, according to several sources close to the UT athletic department.
Paige's transfer would push the Volunteers to 10 player personnel losses in the first five months under head coach Lane Kiffin, with the most recent being one of the most peaceful.
Kiffin and Paige met shortly after the spring semester finished, and the player painted a mutually-respectful portrait of the situation.
"This is a great place, but sometimes things just don't work out," Paige said Monday afternoon. "I just feel like I need a fresh start."
Paige said Kiffin offered to help him find a new school and give him a positive recommendation to "any other coach out there." Most players are given in-conference and future-opponent restrictions during the transfer process.
Kiffin was traveling with the Big Orange Caravan tour Monday afternoon, and he wasn't immediately available for comment.
"I have no hard feelings with Coach Kiffin and the other new coaches," Paige said. "I don't regret coming here at all. It's great place, and it won't be easy to leave.
"It's nothing negative. It just didn't work out."
Paige, a highly-touted high-school signee from Monroe, La., never met expectations on the field during two years with the Vols.
The 6-foot-1, 177-pound speedster who signed with UT over other impressive offers - including Florida, Georgia, Alabama Southern Cal, Miami and Florida State - redshirted in 2007 and did not catch a pass last season in limited varsity action.
A mediocre spring practice intensified the rumblings of Paige's future that had circulated for months, but the player stayed publicly positive.
"Obviously things haven't gone anything like I thought they would, but there's plenty of time to get it turned around," he told the Times Free Press last month. "I just try to stay positive and work hard and hope for the best."
Quarterback B.J. Coleman from Chattanooga decided last month to leave the program, and Paige's announcement lengthened a list that included safety Demetrice Morley, tailback Lennon Creer, wide receiver E.J. Abrams-Ward, and linemen Donald Langley, Darius Myers, Ramone Johnson, Preston Bailey and Darris Sawtelle.