Weight: 197 pounds
Hometown: Carnegie, Pennsylvania
Before Penn State: Payne comes to Penn State as a three-star corner from Chartiers Valley High School in the Pittsburgh area. Payne is a lengthy cornerback and has a similar skillset to current Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr., who they also plucked from Western Pennsylvania. Payne had been a heavy Penn State lean since receiving the offer, but also held offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Syracuse. He committed to Penn State during the team’s White Out game against Auburn in September 2021.
Where he stands: Payne’s part of a loaded position group. Kalen King is set to fill new Steeler Joey Porter Jr’s shoes well as the team’s top corner, and could even be the top corner taken in the 2024 Draft. Johnny Dixon has four seasons of college football experience— two each at South Carolina and Penn State— and started all 13 games last season. The fifth-year senior is expected to again be a big part of coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense in 2023. Nickelback Daequan Hardy is also entering Year 5, and should see quite a bit of playing time come September. Cam Miller also has a lot of promise heading into his second year. Along with Payne, other ‘23 signees in four-star Elliot Washington (Venice, Florida) and three-star Zion Tracy (St. Thomas More), will be in the mix as well.
It will be hard for Payne to get a lot of playing time in Year 1, but that’s normal for a true freshman.
A quote by Payne: “The biggest thing was the Penn State coaching staff,” Payne told NSN. “And the other thing was the Penn State community. From the beginning, I’ve seen how he entire Penn State community has shown me love, not only in football but in regular day staff. When I was previously up there, the people wanted to meet you and they are so friendly. It just seems like a great place and a great community to be a part of.” — Payne to Nittany Sports Now after his commitment
A quote about Payne: ”You’ve really handled this process the right way. I remember you coming to camp and doing a great job in camp and us offering you. You wanted to commit right away and we wanted to make sure that you and your family were all on the same page, the coaches were all on the same page. But you have a great support system. You’re going to be here in a very, very short period of time.” — Coach James Franklin to Payne on National Signing Day