D'Andre Payne has had quite the journey to get him through his first two seasons of college football, but the former highly-regarded prospect has found another home that he hopes will be his fourth and final destination.
The former four-star and Scout 300 cornerback committed to Tennessee in the 2014 class and appeared in eight games as a true freshman before transferring first to Maryland and ultimately to Arizona Western C.C. in 2015.
After being recruited by Toledo this fall, Payne was offered by Iowa State after Matt Campbell moved over and quickly locked in his pledge Saturday.
“I don’t think I’d want to be in another place,” Payne said. “I talked to guys that played under [Campbell] at Toledo and I heard nothing but good things and those are the guys you really want to talk to about a coach are the guys who played under him. I heard all good things about him.”
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound corner, who had his picked of 20-plus Power 5 offers out of high school as the No. 24-ranked cornerback, will sign with Iowa State on Wednesday and arrives in January with three years to play three.
Payne transferred to Maryland in January 2015 but left after one semester to avoid sitting out his sophomore year per NCAA transfer rules. He ended up sitting out anyway at Arizona Western after he was given advice to keep three years of eligibility.
“I pretty much just wanted to sit out just to get that year back,” Payne said. “I talked to coaches and they just felt that was my best option.”
That experience and eligibility could pay dividends in the Big 12.
Iowa State expects Payne to play cornerback and hopes he can contribute immediately next fall during the 2016 season.
“They expect me to come in and be a dude,” Payne said. “Come in and make a big impact on the defense right away. I’m up for the challenge. I’ve been out of [football] for a little while and I’m excited to get back."
What should fans expect?
Payne has been well-regarded since high school and will have the winter and spring ball to shed the rust after sitting out last season. He hopes to bring leadership and feels as if his travels have made him better.
"I learned a whole lot when I was at Tennessee," Payne said. "Being under [defensive backs coach] Willie Martinez, he taught me a whole lot on and off the field. I’ve grown as a college football player as well as a student at the University of Tennessee. That’s a big aspect coming into a conference like the Big 12."
Despite his size, Payne has found ways to be successful through his football career, and he now hopes that translates to Iowa State and ultimately the Big 12.
“I’m a technician. I’m high on that,” Payne said. “As a small guy you’re going up against receivers that are 6-5, 6-6, 240-pounds and you have to be physical with those guys. You’ve just got to be a gnat on the field, just be really scrappy and irritating to the receiver. That’s my main aspect.”