Payne Hoping Smaller Body Means Big Interest

Auburn High's Jamichael Payne talks about his junior year, slimming down, and recruiting.

Auburn, Ala.--College teams all over the country are looking for big defensive tackles who can stack up things on the line of scrimmage while also making plays in the backfield. A player who definitely fits that description is big Jamichael Payne.

At 6-1, 330, Payne is the immovable object that helped the Auburn Tigers to one of the best seasons in school history last year and a number one ranking in Class 6A before losing to Prattville in the playoffs. Now working to become a smaller and quicker player before next season, Payne says things are going good in the off-season as he throws the shot put for the track team.

"Things are going good," Payne tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I'm just working on my foot speed and getting quicker. I'm also working on losing weight. Right now I'm at 330."

Playing at around 340 pounds as a junior, Payne says that his goal is to be at around 310 pounds when the Tigers suit up for play in August. Already an explosive player despite his size, Payne says his best quality on the football field is just playing football.

"I'm physical," Payne says. "I feel like I'm hard-nosed. I get after it."

Playing alongside South Alabama signee Rodney Thomas and with fellow 2011 prospect LaMichael Fanning on occasion, Payne had a big junior year for coach Tim Carter. Coached by former Auburn defensive line coach Don Dunn, Payne finished with 69 tackles and three sacks from his interior line spot.

Those numbers were enough to draw attention from several top programs as he heads into his senior year and Payne admitted the interest will continue to grow as his weight drops.

"I'm hearing from Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and Southern Miss," Payne says. "I don't have any offers yet."

One of the colleges that has shown interest is the hometown Tigers and coach Gene Chizik. Last month Payne was one of several players that was on campus for a junior day. He says that experience gave him a chance to see another side of Auburn.

"It went pretty good," Payne says. "I like the campus a lot. The weight facility is nice and the education program. Everything was good."

Being recruited by defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, Payne says that's a big plus for the Tigers because of his history with the program and also playing the position.

"It has been real good getting to know him," Payne says. "I know that he knows what he's doing. That's why I wouldn't mind playing for him. He knows what it takes to get to the next level and that's my plan."

On Wednesday Payne and Fanning both had a chance to see Auburn once again as they were in town unofficially. He said it was another opportunity to see and get a better feel for Auburn.

"It went real well," Payne said. "We had a nice day with coach Rocker. He told us everything we needed to do and how things would be. He really laid it out there. We saw everything we wanted to see. It was real nice.

"He (Fanning) is my boy," he added. "That was nice to have him with me. I hope we make the right decision and both of us go there. That would be real nice."

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