Back in January, Payton Page released a list of his top five schools in his recruitment. On Thursday, Page trimmed down that list to his three finalists, and Tennessee made the cut.
Page is a 6-foot-4, 360-pound defensive tackle who plays for Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina. He posted a graphic on his Instagram page on Thursday showcasing his three finalists, and the Vols were included along with Clemson and North Carolina.
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According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Page is the No. 66 overall prospect, No. 6 defensive tackle, and No. 3 recruit in the state of North Carolina.
Page has paid visits to the in-state Tarheels more than any other school, but that’s to be expected when UNC is less than an hour from where Page lives. The elite lineman took an unofficial visit to UT’s campus back in late July of 2019, making his first trip to Knoxville. He also visited at the start of the 2019 season. He most recently visited Knoxville again at the beginning of March before recruiting visits were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Page has a strong relationship with Tennessee’s coaches.
It’s worth noting that Tennessee was the first school to extend an offer to Page, giving him an offer way back on May 2, 2018. Since then, he’s added over 30 more scholarship offers, but he’ll be focusing on just these three schools moving forward.
The huge defensive lineman hopes to take official visits to all three of his finalists and plans on making a commitment announcement before his senior season this fall.
Interestingly, Charles Power’s evaluation of Page on 247Sports compares him to former Vol defensive tackle and current NFL offensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie, calling Page “one of the bigger defensive linemen you’ll see in the 2021 cycle.”
Page is a huge lineman but moves well for his size. He’s hard to contain at the point of attack and is capable of absorbing multiple linemen. He has good initial burst to overwhelm offensive linemen, and he’s effective at getting into the backfield.
As a junior this past season for Dudley High School, Page racked up 71 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, three sacks, six quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery in 13 games according to MaxPreps. In his last two seasons, Page has totaled 151 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and 27 quarterback hurries.
Tennessee currently has 10 prospects committed to them in their 2021 class, but only one of those commitments is from a defensive tackle. Three-star North Carolina defensive tackle Isaac Washington recommitted to the Vols back on March 7th. Page is one of the Vols’ top targets in the 2021 cycle, and North Carolina is a big area of focus for UT in this class.