"Today after practice, I saw this elderly woman doubled over on the curb," Payne said. "I guess her dog had caused her to trip and none of the cars were stopping. I ran over and saw that her face was cut and bloody so I called 911 on my cell phone. I stayed with her and kept her stable until the paramedics got there." On the field, the safety Payne sees himself switching to cornerback in college.
"That is actually what I want to play at the next level," he said. "I'm usually covering guys man-to-man in a lot of our coverages, so it won't be hard to switch."
Payne also serves as a punt returner, but during recent offseason practices, the coaching staff is attempting to squeeze every ounce of talent from the player. The Golden Eagles will be rebuilding the offensive side of the ball next season, so the team wants an experienced player to lead the way.
"I am going to be playing offense a lot next season," said Payne. "We are putting in a new system, so they want to put the ball in my hands and try to make me the No. 1 guy."
With 4.41 forty-yard dash speed, it might be a mistake not to give Payne as many touches as possible. The team will implement a variation of the spread offense that will utilize Payne at wide receiver and running back, much like the University of Florida did with Percy Harvin.
"I am a bigger corner like he is," Payne said. "Mentally, I dig down, and am aware of where I need to be on the field and everything going on. I have quickness, speed -- the whole package really."
Currently, Payne has a verbal offer from Northwestern, and eight official offers -- from Arizona, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. He has also drawn interest from Arizona State, Baylor, Cal, Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, TCU and UTEP.
Payne has only taken one official visit, to Kansas, but has summer trips planned for Missouri and Stanford.
"I am going to come up [to Stanford] this summer because I'm going to be visiting my brother at Cal," Payne said. "My mom and I are planning on visiting one weekend and talking to the coaches. My brother told me the campus was a pretty big place, so I wanted to see what it looked like."
Damian's brother, Kendrick, is a redshirt freshman defensive lineman at Cal. The younger Payne admits Kendrick in his ear to play at Berkeley, but adds that the possibility of going against him in the Big Game wouldn't be a bad scenario either.
"That definitely sounds like fun," he said. "I actually told him the other day that if we ever play against each other, I was going to run him over."
Of the offers he has right now, Payne says there is no leader. He says is in the process of researching some schools, including Stanford.
"I know it's an academic school, but I want to find out more," Payne said. "I'm not too concerned with their record last year, because some teams just have down seasons. I talked to Coach Buh awhile back and he said the first time he saw me play was the day he offered, so that was cool."
Payne plans to announce his decision prior to his team's first playoff game next season. He is also shooting to graduate early in December.
"I took the SAT and I didn't do too well," Payne said of his 1120 three-part score. "That's a score I know I can increase. This time I have been studying and getting myself more prepared. So I will be ready this time, and I'm aiming for at least a 1500."
Payne holds a 3.6 GPA and will be taking another stab at the SAT on June 6. He is tentatively planning on majoring in the field of veterinary medicine.
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