Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 170 pounds
Hometown/High School: Bridgeville, PA (Chartiers Valley H.S.)
Ranking: ★★★ (0.8894 247Sports Composite — No. 308 Overall)
Notable Offers: Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West Virginia
Long thought to be a future member of the 2023 class, Penn State put things into motion by officially offering him back in April 2021. Since then, it was just a matter of when — not if — Payne would announce his commitment to Penn State. Well, it came during halftime of the Nittany Lions matchup with Auburn, as Payne became the second member of Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class, joining Top 50 prospect Alex Birchmeier.
As always, it’s tough to project these kids when the only thing available is their sophomore film. But there a lot of things to like about Payne, first and foremost being his length. At a reported 6-foot-1, there are no questions that he has the length to play cornerback — even if that 6-foot-1 is more of a 5-foot-11. Payne will need to add quite a bit of weight — coming in at just 170 pounds — but that isn’t concerning in the slightest for a 15-or-16-year old kid. He’ll wind up playing in the 190-area at Penn State.
Payne’s a good athlete with a lot of the prerequisites you look for in a cornerback — fluidity, hip flexibility, short-area changer of direction, etc. I think one of the “swing” skills for Payne is his long speed. He ran an 11.53 100M this spring which is solid as a sophomore, but you’d like to see that be sub-11 by the time Payne graduates. If that ends up being the case, Payne should see his three-star rating end up a four.