UT To Reap Benefits Of Payne's Growth Agenda

Bigger, faster, stronger. Not to mention older and wiser. Four-star WR Phillip Payne has been busy during the off-season building a new, improved version of his play-making self before he sets foot on the Texas campus this summer.

The South Garland product has added eight pounds of lean muscle to his 6-3 frame since the end of his prep star season and weighs in at 197. He has shaved .102 off of his 40 and has been clocked at 4.43. He also benches 325. Yet, he is also committed to improving his numbers in the classroom. It was almost one year ago that Payne attended Junior Day in Austin. Initially, Texas didn't offer "because of academics," Payne said, adding that his GPA now stands at 2.7. But it was Texas' emphasis on the schoolbooks, rather than focusing exclusively on the playbook, that gave the Longhorns the decisive edge over other suitors.

"That made me want to go there because they were thinking about education first instead of just all football," he said. "I went there and they said I had great style, great character and that I looked good on film. They said, 'You need to step it up in the classroom; we know you can do it.' That's what I did."

Recruited by nearly every Big 12 Conference program, Payne took no other official visits once he accepted Texas' offer. Payne was Texas' 11th commitment when he gave his verbal last March. In fact, he gave his pledge to WR Coach Bobby Kennedy while attending Junior Day at Oklahoma State. A call came from South Garland Coach Mickey Moss, alerting him that Kennedy was trying to contact him. Payne said he committed to Texas while watching the hoops Horns upset the No. 8 Cowboys, 74-73, on Senior Day.

But that didn't stop Oklahoma State, nor the likes of Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Georgia Tech, from calling him early and often.

"People are always going to try to sway you," Payne said. "I'm glad I got it over with."

A three-year varsity letterman, Payne played both WR and RB at South Garland but said he is projected only at WR at Texas. He joins four-star Montre Webber (Hearne) at WR (along with WR/TE Josh Marshall and WR/CB Ken Beasley) in a highly touted, balanced Longhorn class and is Scout.com''s choice as No. 16 nationally at his position.

Part of Payne's growth agenda is to try not to put so much pressure on himself, despite lofty expectations. It was part of the reason, he is convinced, that his junior season got off to a relatively slow start.

"I didn't play all that much my sophomore year and I was kind of disappointed. I thought that I needed to work harder so I could get on the field. During the off-season, I got in the weight room. I got faster and stronger. I was determined to get my name out there. Starting out my junior season, I didn't do so well my first couple of games trying to respond to the pressure since everyone was expecting so much from me. I didn't do too well."

He considers the contest against W.T. White that season as his breakout game, posting four catches for 197 yards and two TDs. He notched 12 scores during his senior campaign.

Like other members of Texas' recruiting class, Payne saw nearly every second of the Horns National Championship win over USC.

"It kept me on the edge of my seat," Payne said. "I talked a lot of trash after that. A lot of trash. There were so many doubters up here."

Payne plans to arrive in Austin this June and participate in voluntary summer workouts.

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