Decision Coming Soon For Houston DL

Rice is looking to replace George Chukwu and Jonathan Cary in their 4 man defensive front. The Owls currently have two great linemen committed and would like to add another...

Rice hosted several official visitors on campus last weekend. Among them was Klein Forest Defensive Tackle Kendrick Payne. Payne is about 6-3 265 and is coveted for his size and quickness. "I get off the ball strong and I am quick. I have good agility. One thing I do need to work on is definitely getting stronger."

Klein Forest defensive line coach Aaron Blum said Payne plays with tremendous effort and benefits from having his uncle Harvey Williams, a former LSU and NFL running back, as his mentor. "He's what you would call a coach's dream," Blum said. "He does what he's asked to do. He does it 120 miles an hour. He's a special player. He doesn't come out of the regular mold of a high school player with his previous experience with his uncle being in the NFL. He understands the business side of football and understands the work you have to put in."

He is being recruited by Rice Defensive Line Coach DJ Eliot to play the "tackle" (3t) position in the Rice 4 man front. The Owls already have two outstanding defensive line commitments, but are looking for a third to play tackle. It doesn't hurt the Owl's chances that Payne's former Klein Forest teammate, Brian Stacey is a red shirt freshman at Rice.

The Owls face stiff competition in signing the Klein Forest star though. Payne has received in-home visits from our coaches (Rice), Tulane, and Iowa State. He has offers from all those schools in addition to Stanford and Air Force. Arizona State offered him this past Wednesday and seems to have made a good impression on him as well. He has more visits scheduled this weekend and next. "I am visiting Iowa State this weekend and I think I am going straight from there to Tulane. I am visiting Arizona State the following week." TCU has also offered Kendrick, but he doesn't see them among his leaders at this point. He added that Oklahoma State has been in touch but has not offered.

So why the flurry of activity for Payne? Well, he's obviously got a huge upside. Another reason is that defensive tackle is a tough position to recruit. But the biggest reason, is that Kendrick will graduate this month from high school. Which makes him even more attractive to colleges because he will go through spring practices and a college strength and conditioning program for almost 9 months – making him much more likely to play as a true freshman this fall. Payne is an exceptional student athlete and has been taking weekend classes to graduate early. "I just recently re-took the SAT, but the first time I scored 1540 total. My GPA is a 4.2."

Payne will be signing with some lucky school on December 19, so we'll find out soon where he's headed. He could definitely play as a freshman next year as the Owls will be thin up front.

With editorial contribution from

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