Tennessee Wide Receiver Declares for the NFL Draft

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    Tennessee wide receiver JaVonta Payton has officially declared for the NFL Draft on Monday. The one-year Tennessee receiver posted the announcement into a statement on Twitter, in which he also thanked his coaches, teammates, and the fans for the continued support.

    “My time at Tennessee, although it was short, was nothing short of amazing,” Payton said in a post on Monday. “Being able to come home and play in my home state was a dream come true. I am so thankful to the coaching staff that believed and trusted in me. I would also like to thank all the coaches that have invested in me throughout my college career.”

    At the end of his post, Payton wrote about his desire to play football at the highest level, followed by the NFL Draft 2022 logo.

    “As one door closes, another one opens,” Payton said. “It has always been my dream to play at the highest level. I am excited to see what the future holds as I pursue my career in the NFL.”

    While Payton just finished his first year at Tennessee, his career started long before this season.

    JaVonta Payton

    Tennessee WR JaVonta Payton. Photo via Tennessee Athletics

    Coming out of high school, the Nashville native attended Northwest Mississippi Community College for his first two years. After those two seasons, Payton established himself as a four-star player and the top-ranked junior college prospect from ESPN.

    Payton then made the transfer to Mississippi State and spent the next two years of his career there. However, after his senior season in 2020, Payton was ready for another switch. The speedy wide receiver then entered the transfer portal before committing to Josh Heupel in his inaugural year with Tennessee.

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    In total, Payton has played five seasons of college football, and will now be taking all of that experience with him in preparation for the NFL.

    “To my teammates, thank you for embracing me so quickly,” Payton said on Monday. “Battling each Saturday with you all are memories I’ll never forget. This bond we have formed can’t be broken. My brothers for life!

    “Lastly, thank you to the best fan base in the country,” Payton said. “Vol Nation, you’ll were so welcoming to this kid from Nashville Tennessee and I am forever grateful.

    In one season with Tennessee, Payton quickly established himself as one of the scariest big-play threats for opposing defenses in the SEC. With appearances in all 13 games this season, Payton finished his Volunteer career with 18 receptions, 413 yards, and six touchdowns.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.