When Tennessee was gearing up to finalize their 2017 signing class, three-star wide receiver JaVonta Payton was a name that the Vols’ coaching staff was focusing on as a possible late addition. He ended up committing and signing with Ole Miss on National Signing Day, however, and the Vols appeared to have missed out on his services.
But things didn’t go as planned for Payton at Ole Miss. And now he’s back on the market.
Payton, who’s originally from Nashville and played for Hillsboro, signed his Letter of Intent for Ole Miss but never ended up playing for them. He enrolled, instead, at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He’s spent a year there already, and now he’s one of the top JUCO wide receivers in the 2019 cycle. And Tennessee just sent him an offer.
— JaVonta Payton (@JcpSlide) June 23, 2018
According to 247Sports, Payton is the No. 2 JUCO wide receiver in the 2019 class and the No. 16 overall JUCO player in this cycle. The composite rankings have him as the third-best JUCO receiver and the No. 26 JUCO prospect.
Payton appears set on trying to get back to Ole Miss, as he just committed to the Rebels again back in February of this year. But now that Tennessee’s new staff is interested in him, the Vols may be able to sway him this time. He unofficially visited the Vols in January of 2017 and twice in 2016, so he’s been to UT’s campus before. And Tennessee’s new staff likely would like to have him back once the recruiting dead period is over.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound wideout has excellent athleticism and is a solid route runner. He particularly excels at running slant routes, and he was a big red zone target for Northwest Mississippi in his first year there. He’ll get physical with corners when he’s running routes and blocking on the edge both. He won’t outrun too many corners in college, but he’s not slow by any means. His strengths are his awareness and ability to run smart routes. He’ll pull down some tough passes as well. He’s a gritty receiver who doesn’t give up on plays easily.
In his first year with Northwest Mississippi, Payton caught 44 passes for 509 yards and nine touchdowns according to the school’s site. He was second on the team in catches, third in total receiving yards, and he had the most receiving touchdowns of any player on the roster. Jack Abraham, Payton’s quarterback at Northwest Mississippi, signed with Southern Miss in the 2018 class.
Tennessee has one wide receiver committed in their 2019 class as of right now. Four-star Ramel Keyton of Marietta, Georgia is the Vols’ lone commitment at wideout in this class. But the Vols are expected to add at least one more wide receiver, if not two more, in this cycle.