Payne holding offers from across the country

With the state of Texas being a focal point for Nebraska recruiting, landing top talent from the Lone Star State is a high priority for the Husker staff. In this update we talk with Damian Payne, a gifted defensive back from the Houston area. Can the Huskers get in the mix with this highly sought after prospect? Find out the latest inside.

With early offers from Nebraska, Kansas, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Stanford, Illinois, Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Utah, Colorado and a host of others, finding a program won't be a problem for Damian Payne. But right now the standout from Klein Forest high school in Klein (Tex.) isn't in a hurry to decide.

"I don't see myself committing for awhile. Everybody is the same right now, there are no leaders. I want to go through the process before I choose anything."

Why do you have all these offers? Talk about some of your traits and what you bring to the game.

"I guess I would say my defensive back skills, and I am an all-around athlete. I can play corner or safety, and I play a little running back and receiver too. On offense I play more running back than wide receiver, they use me kind of like a Percy Harvin type.

"Everybody is recruiting me at corner even though I play mostly safety now. Teams say they like my speed (4.41) and that I'm a ball hawk. I can come down and hit too, but they say I'm probably not big enough to play safety in college. I'm 6-foot, and 187 pounds and teams need big corners."

Tell the fans a little bit about your athletic background, and what sports have you participated in during your youth.

"I've been playing football since I was like 4 or 5, it was just flag back then. I started tackle when I was about 10 and played ever since. I played basketball when I was younger and ran track, but just football this year. I ran the 100 meter, the 4x2 and the 4x1, my best 100 is a 10.8."

To say Damian comes from good bloodlines would be an understatement. You would be hard-pressed to find another high school player with more football in is his family than him, he's even got some ties to the Husker program.

"My uncle played at LSU, Harvey Williams, like back in the 80's, he also played in the league. I've got a cousin right now at LSU, Terrance Toliver, he is a junior. My brother, Kenny Payne, is a defensive tackle out at California. And also my stepdad, he played for Nebraska back in the day."

Very interesting, what is your stepdad's name?

"His name is Jerry Irons, he was there in the early 90's. I already know a little about Nebraska football. I went to a game back when I was about 11 or 12. My stepdads brother played for Notre Dame, and they played Nebraska and we went up there to the game. I loved that Valentino's pizza they have up there," laughed Payne.

" I remember all that red, that sea of red, and I remember Nebraska won that game too. I had a good time up there."

Damian was then asked to talk about the attention from Nebraska and when it all started.

"It started like maybe a month and a half ago. They came up to the school and watched me practice then took my tape back to coach Pelini. They said coach Pelini was watching my tape and said, cut it off, we've got to offer this guy.

"Then that next night my coach said I needed to get in contact with them. I talked to coach Watson and they offered me, he tried to get me on the phone with coach Pelini but it never worked out. I probably got the offer in the mail a week after that."

And Nebraska wasn't the only program to get a look at him in spring practice.

"All these staffs have come in and watched me practice, that's how Wake Forest got in there. Their coach was watching me catch punts and kickoffs, and was like I got to offer this guy. I've gotten most of my offers over that span."

Another intriguing aspect to Damian, he already is set to graduate early and will arrive on campus sometime in December, well ahead of most freshmen. But that doesn't mean he won't still get in his visits.

"I am graduating early (3.6 GPA), but I will still take all my officials. We have three Thursday games this year. So I know on those three weeks I will take officials. Then I'll take the other two after some of our Friday games. But it won't be until after those five I make a decision."

Damian also gave me some information on the destinations for two of those officials.

"I've already got two of the officials already set up. I'll be going to Arkansas and Wake Forest, and that's the only ones I know about right now. I'm just looking for the other three. I'll probably take some unofficial visits this summer.

"I'm going to visit my brother out at Cal, in like three or four weeks. I'll hit Stanford while I'm out there. Those might be the only ones I take this summer."

I see California hasn't stepped up with an offer yet, do you anticipate they will get in the picture soon?

"They wanted me to come to the camp this weekend, but my brother was coming home this weekend, so I wasn't going to be able to make it. They just told me to be patient, they said they don't just give out a lot of offers like that. But they said I'm one of their number one prospects defensive wise."

What about those other three officials, how do you decide who gets those?

"I'll be looking at a lot of things. Like roster spots, and see who else they are recruiting. I'll look at what the'09 class looked like. Just to see how many defensive backs they have recruited. I want to get to know some of these coaches better too, then I can pick the other three."

Damian also said, even with all the different connections to different schools, he has no favorites at this point.

"Everybody is the same, people won't start pulling away from the pack until I make my officials. I've got to go see how everything is at these programs first. I won't choose a school just because of a big name or whatever."

So what are the major characteristics you're looking for in a program?

"A family oriented team that's like my high school team. We are a real tight knit team and school. I want study in the medical field, maybe be a dentist or something like that. I want to have good coaches too, guys that can get the best out of me."

What about your plans for the summer?

"I'm just going to keep working out and try to get my speed up. I'd like to hit that 4.3, I have to just keep working. I'll keep working on my hips and quickness. We also have some 7-on-7 coming up, and hopefully we can make it to the state tournament and win it this year. We have one this weekend at the Woodlands, the other one is like July 3rd I think."

Damian said he is wide open on location and there was no offer out there that would shut down his recruitment, he's also looking forward to taking his official visits before making a decision. Damian is a focused young man with a bright future, and Big Red Report will follow his recruitment and bring you the latest as it happens.

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