Payne Diary: To Clemson and Back
Chris Payne Journal #3:
When my coach came in one day and told me that Mario and I were invited to the Clemson junior day, I thought it was nothing because at the time I did not have an offer from them. The next morning when our coach came to get us, he asked me how I felt. I told him, "I feel straight," and thought nothing much of the trip.
As we drove up to Clemson, all I could think about was how boring the trip was and that it was wack. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I started to break out of the funk. When we entered the building, the coaches were showing me love, and I began to feel right at home.
While we waited patiently for the other prospects, Mario and I took our own tour. Once the other kids showed up, they began to tell us about the game day room and how they used this room just for game day, nothing else. I thought that was cool.
Next we got on the bus and they showed us the campus and the different buildings, and I truly loved it. They took us to the academic building and started to talk about the graduation rates and the football players' graduation rates. I really loved that, because I truly want to graduate from college. The head coach, Tommy Bowden, was stressing that you will graduate if you go to Clemson.
I started to think to myself and wondered if they were going to offer me. We got back on the bus and they took us to the football stadium, and there was an eating lounge in there, so me and the other prospects ate up. While I was eating, some of the players and coaches started to come up to me. I smiled and thought, "Yes, they are showing me love." After that we left and went to the coaches' rooms. The defensive backs coach was showing us schemes and how I would be the key in their defense. I was paying attention to what he was saying and really liked what I heard. Ten minutes later, a coach came and got me. That is when the coach told me the reason they had not offered me was because they were not really sure how tall I was. We talked for a good bit of time in the hall. When I went back in, the defensive backs coach told me to come outside. He was telling me how he loved how I was listening to him, and he loved my attitude. After all that, he smiled and said, "Congratulations," and told me they were offering me, and I said, "Thanks."
I went back into the room with this big grin, and Mario asked if they had offered me. I said yes. We both decided together that we were going to commit to Clemson. So we went to Coach Rumph, my recruiting coordinator, and told him that we wanted to be Tigers. He said there was no turning back, and I said, "Nope, no turning back." Next we met with Coach Bowden and told him we wanted to be Tigers. He said cool stuff, and after that we left.
On the way back home, I felt different. I felt like I had really done something bad. I was truly mad at myself, and felt like I had let the whole Carolina coaching staff and the fans down; so I went home mad. After being home for about 30 minutes, my head coach, Coach Amick, called and said that Coach Reaves wanted to meet with us in the morning. That next morning, Coach Reaves was really upset. He said to me, "I thought you were a Carolina guy. You love us. What happened?" I told him, like a man, that I had loved everything about Clemson, and that they had a lot to offer, but at the same time I knew I had made a bad choice. Not that Clemson is a bad place, because it isn't; it is just that I have always been a Gamecock fan and truly love USC. So after that day, I talked to a radio station and told the USC fans, players, and Clemson that I was sorry, and I truly meant it, and still do.
A week later, I went to Carolina to see Coach Reaves. He was in the quarterback meeting, but I told him it was important. He said, "Well, what is it?" I told him I wanted to be a Gamecock for life. He told me he had been waiting for me to come on board.
So, yes, Carolina fans, I committed to the Gamecocks. I kept it under the table for a week, then made the announcement. So, to the fans, I love you. Come support me next football season - and remember, Gamecock 4 life!
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