Nansemond River D-lineman Payton Payne (Photo: Joe Barnes/recruit757)
Nansemond River lineman Payton Payne wins the day
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
Last weekend’s Clash of the Titans Showcase was a test for every athlete on the field.
In the defensive line group, defensive tackles and ends got a full immersion in technique and strategy before lining up against a solid group of offensive linemen from all over the state.
At the end of the day, Nansemond River lineman Payton Payne edged out several other worthy contenders.
“I push myself through every rep. It’s all about focus. If you come in thinking you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose,” Payne said. “The camp was phenomenal. I pushed through every drill. I pushed through… I won every one-on-one today.”
Payne is coming into his senior season and he knows expectations are high at Nansemond River. His father is an assistant coach there and his older brother Pheldarius Payne is a recent graduate of NRHS. Pheldarius’ path included two years at Lackawanna Community College before inking his NLI with the University of Nebraska. That inspires Payton, but it also helps him realize that the path to college football glory is not always an easy one.
“Recruiting has been good. I’ve been going to Shenandoah and Bridgewater. They’ve been hitting me up. It feels good (to be contacted by college coaches). It gives me a boost. I play better on the field. I play better,” Payne said. “I want to go as big as I can go… as far as I can go.”
The lack of a football season this fall puts up another barrier for student-athletes who just started their senior year. Division I opportunities are drying up fast as players verbally commit much earlier than they might have otherwise. That allows college coaches to lock down their recruiting class, but it also locks out some prospects who might have benefited from a big senior season.
All Payton can do is affect the things he can affect. That means putting in the work and staying in touch with every college coach he can. There’s no football season for Virginia high schools at this point, but he’s going to get it done in the classroom and get it done on college visits. He’s determined to impact everything he can control.
– Andy Hilton