Javonta Payton took complete advantage of satellite camps back in June and earned scholarship offers from several programs, including Tennessee.
The Volunteers have 27 verbal commitments in their 2017 class but covet another wide-receiver talent. Payton could do that job and took an official visit to Knoxville over the weekend.
“I just love the opportunity to spend time with the players and the coaches and get to experience more in not only the athletic part but the academic part, too,” Payton told InsideTennessee.
Coaches did not push the mid-state native to verbally commit.
“It wasn’t really no pressure,” Payton said. “They were just telling me to ‘go somewhere invested in you.’ They’re going to be happy with whatever choice I pick. They just want something that’s best for me to make my family happy and make me happy.”
He seeks “a school that I feel comfortable at, I get to bond with all the coaches and all the players and what’s best for me and my family.”
Accompanying Payton on the trip were his dad, step-mom and young brothers.
“I would like them to see me play, so I just want to have the best fit for them, too,” Payton said.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones and passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni spent time with Payton.
“We got to eat together and all of that. It was a great experience though,” Payton said.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Quarté Sapp was the player host.
“I was just asking him how the coaches are if I decide to come here,” Payton said. “A lot of the coaches, they play that recruitment role where everybody’s a friend when they’re being recruited, but I mean he was just telling me how all the coaches, they’re really cool here. They get on you like all other coaches, but they don’t show favoritism. They get on you like they get on all the other players and just try to make you the best player that you can be.”
Tennessee sophomore defensive lineman Kyle Phillips came to Rocky Top from the same Hillsboro (Tenn.) High School at which Payton plays.
“He was just talking to me about the school. He was also telling me to make the best decision for me and don’t let nobody put nothin’ in my head,” Payton said.
The visitor said he “experienced the whole college life,” bonded with Team 121 members and played video games. Payton and Tennessee freshman wideout Marquez Callaway watched Payton’s camp film together.
The Volunteers play in one of the more majestic football homes in the country in Neyland Stadium. Time spent there wowed the pass-catcher.
“I had never been to the top of the stadium,” he said. “I really enjoyed that.”
Before departing on Sunday, the official visitors had breakfast at the Peyton Manning Room.
Next is an official visit to Mississippi on Friday. After that is a midweek visit to see Middle Tennessee State. The weekend prior to the NCAA Dead Period, he checks out Purdue.
“I’m considering everybody right now,” the 6-foot-1, 172-pounder said. “I’m not putting anybody in the lead until I go to all my schools.”
A declaration could come soon after returning home from West Lafayette, Indiana.
“I probably will make it before (National Signing Day on Feb. 1),” he said.
As a junior, the Nashville native caught 21 passes for 467 yards with six touchdowns. He also had 21 rushes for 217 yards and four TDs.
He said he would like to wear either No. 1 or No. 3, which are both available for an offensive player at Tennessee in 2017.
Tennessee passing game coordinator Zach Azzanni