UH Receivers Series - Damian Payne

"They moved me to receiver and I will be competing at the ‘Y' position (inside receiver). It is what Juice (Justin Johnson) did last year. I am in the process of getting my routes back. I played receiver in high school and was very excited when they moved me." - UH receiver Damian Payne

RS - If you do not mind tell us why you made the decision to transfer from Utah back to the University of Houston?
DP - I have a 4 month-old daughter and my family decided it was best for us to raise her here rather than way out there. This way, my girlfriend can have some help.

RS - What are you majoring in and what are your ambitions following school?
DP - Right now I am a sociology major, but I just spoke to one of my advisors that I want to be a doctor. I am in the process of changing that.

RS - What position(s) will you be competing for this spring?
DP - They moved me to receiver and I will be competing at the ‘Y' position (inside receiver). It is what Juice (Justin Johnson) did last year. I am in the process of getting my routes back. I played receiver in high school and was very excited when they moved me.

RS - What were your thoughts when you received word from the NCAA that you had been granted a waiver to be able to play right away?
DP - My first thought was that there isn't anything but God because it came back in like a weekend or so. I got on my knees and cried a little bit because I was anxious to play this year.

RS - Can you take us through what you remember on your first TD as a Cougar during your punt return?
DP - When I got to about the 20 yard line all I could do was just smile. If you see the sports' broadcast you can seem me smiling from ear to ear.

RS - Going back to punt returns is this something you want to continue doing?
DP - Yes I plan to do that as well as kickoff returns. I have always done punt returns and had a love for it. Watching DeShawn Jackson while I was in high school just made me want to do it.

RS - What are your personal goals for this spring and upcoming season?
DP - Just need to get my route-running back and become more of a team leader. I like being a leader and someone that the younger guys can look at. I have been at two universities now so I know different sides of the spectrum. Another goal is to start. Everyone wants to start so I just want to push for that starting spot.

RS - How difficult has it been learning this offense and learning to play without thinking?
DP - It is not really difficult at all. During the bowl prep is when I started learning it and then they switched it but I was still able to pick it up so it hasn't been a big issue.

RS - Whar are some of the biggest differences from Utah to Houston?
DP - The city itself, here there is more diversity and up there the only people like me were on the sports teams. The other is the weather. I love being back home.

RS - What are your thoughts on the new staff and what challenges will it present having a new OC?
DP - I like Coach Christian. I feel he and I have a close bond and the staff as a whole has not given me any bad vibes. I feel like they are young but we are going to do some damage next year.

RS - Is it even more motivating when you see the staff sign such a talented receiving group on national signing day?
DP - Yes very much so. It made me want to step up my game and the receivers that are already here wanted to step up their games. That is good for recruiting. Last year really put Houston on the map, so that is a really good thing.

RS - Does it add any more pressure knowing that this offense has been one of the nation's beast and will be replacing all four starting receivers?
DP - No it is just like when someone goes down the next guy needs to be there to pick up the rifle. That is why spring camp is here to polish up then in the fall polish up some more and that first game we should be ready.

RS - Having such a veteran group of receivers last year were you able to learn from them and was there in of them in particular who has helped your development?
DP - Just watching Juice. Even though I was playing safety last year I always liked to focus in on him and thought that was the type of receiver I was. He was a go-to receiver who can get you out of any situation. Talking to Pat being back on punt returns and picking his brain a little what he sees when he catches the ball. I took something from all of them EJ as well.

RS - What is the atmosphere like amongst the receivers with such a heated competition.
DP - Right now I feel everyone is helping everyone even since I have gotten here. They come up to me and ask if I have gotten something or need help making sure I am catching on whether I am in the second group or not.

RS - What do you feel your role on the team will be next season?
DP - I feel I will become a leader. I think I can be a guy people can come to and a guy on the field as well that can get us out of any situation like a big punt return, kickoff or anything.

RS If you were to name a starting four, not including yourself, who would they be?
DP - Isaiah Sweeney on the outside, at Z Dewayne Peace, Darian Lazard at H and Kenneth Bibbins and Y.

Cougar Digest Top Stories