The summer is a time for football recruits to show off their skills and athleticism at various camps across the country. Sometimes, players who haven’t had much exposure at their high school can burst onto the scene during these summer camps, and that’s exactly what happened with one of the prospects Tennessee just recently offered.
Jaden Payoute is a four-star athlete from Chesterfield, Virginia in the 2019 class. But he only recently picked up that four-star rating, and it was because of his standout performance at some recent camps.
“I’ve gone to three camps so far, and every camp I’ve been to I’ve run a 4.38 (40-yard dash time) or lower,” Payoute told me over the phone. “Every coach at the camps have just been mind blown at that and my broad jump. They were just surprised at that with my size and my ability.”
The 6-foot-3, 195 athlete is also a track standout and has turned heads with his speed and freakish athleticism. And all that exposure led to an insane 24 hours for Payoute.
In the span of a day, Payoute picked up seven scholarship offers. But the one that surprised him most was the offer from Tennessee.
“It was very crazy, and it took me by surprise,” he said of all the offers he picked up in a 24 hour span. “Tennessee especially took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting them at all. All these offers in a span of 24 hours was just surprising.”
As it stands right now, Tennessee is Payoute’s “best” offer in terms of school prestige. The second-best? That would be Virginia Tech, and the Hokies stand out because linebacker Rayshard Ashby was Payoute’s teammate at Lloyd C. Bird High School.
But just because a former teammate plays for Virginia Tech doesn’t mean the Hokies are Payoute’s favorite.
“I don’t really have a favorite right now,” he stated. “I just have a few that are at the top right now.”
Payoute’s high school career began with him at quarterback. But that didn’t last long.
“When I was at quarterback in 10th grade, we had a junior at the position who had more experience. So with me and my competitiveness, I just wanted to get on the field,” Payoute said. “So I played receiver at practice, and then it was like (the coaches) saw something and that’s when I started focusing on receiver.”
Receiver is his primary position, but Payoute also plays defensive back for Lloyd C. Bird. But he told me that he doesn’t have a preference for either side of the ball.
“I like playing football in general,” Payoute explained. “Football is football. As long as I’m on the field, I’m loving it.”
Payoute’s competitiveness keeps him sharp, and he knows what areas he needs to focus on to improve his game on both sides of the ball. He told me that he wants to improve on his route running as a receiver and he wants to work on his hips as a defensive back. And he’ll need to continue to improve if he wants to help his team win another title as a senior.
“It’s very competitive,” he said of the high schools in his region. “The school I go to now, it was either us or Highland Springs winning the championship the last six years. Everybody is a top athlete in this area.”
Payoute hasn’t taken any visits to schools yet, but he’s currently working on ways to make it to some of the schools who have offered him. And the Vols should expect to see him soon.
“I’m trying to work my visit out to Tennessee soon,” he stated. “I’m trying for the 21st.”
Payoute’s recruitment will only continue to blow up if he attends more camps and couples that with a solid senior season. Expect to see Tennessee’s coaches continue to keep an eye on him and his development.