When Tennessee was gearing up to finalize their 2017 signing class, 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.
The 6-foot-2, 182-pound receiver committed to Ole Miss back in February, but he announced late on Monday night that he’s re-opening his recruitment and has decided to decommit from Ole Miss coming off his latest visit to Tennessee this past weekend.
— JaVonta Payton (@JcpSlide) October 23, 2018
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Payton is the No. 3 JUCO wide receiver in the 2019 class and the No. 29 overall JUCO player in the cycle. He’s one of Tennessee’s top remaining targets in the 2019 class, and that’s largely due to his speed. Payton has been timed running a 4.42 second 40-yard dash, and he shows off that speed for Northwest Mississippi.
Payton has excellent athleticism and is a solid route runner to go along with his blazing speed. 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. 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.
So far this year, Payton has 21 receptions for 312 yards and two scores according to his school’s website. He’s third on his team in catches and receiving yards and tied for second on the team in receiving touchdowns. Last year, Payton finished his first year at Northwest Mississippi with 44 catches for 509 yards and nine touchdowns.
Coming out of high school, Payton was rated as the No. 572 overall player and No. 19 player from the state of Tennessee according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Tennessee’s new coaching staff offered him a scholarship back in June of this year, and he’s taken a big interest in the Vols in the months since.
Payton visited Tennessee this past weekend as the Vols hosted No. 1 Alabama, and Payton decided 48 hours later to make his decommitment from Ole Miss public. The Vols are also still targeting several other receivers in the 2019 class, including four-star Khafre Brown, four-star Jalen Curry, and three-star Baylor commit Jaylen Ellis.
Tennessee currently only has one wide receiver committed to them in their 2019 class, and that’s four-star Ramel Keyton.