A day after improving to 3-0 on the season, the good times kept rolling for the Kansas State football team Sunday, as it added to its 2022 recruiting class.
VJ Payne, a defensive back from Georgia, committed to the Wildcats Sunday afternoon. He announced his commitment on Twitter.
“100% COMMITTED,” wrote Payne, who included a graphic of himself in a K-State jersey in the tweet.
Payne picked K-State over his two other finalists, Boston College and Vanderbilt. He also held offers from numerous other Power 5 programs, including blue bloods Michigan and Southern California along with Arizona State, Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland and Michigan State. A few of the Group of 5’s most successful programs (Appalachian State, East Carolina, Troy and UAB) also had been interested in Payne.
Payne made an official visit to Manhattan last week during the football team’s home game versus Southern Illinois; K-State scouting analyst and defensive back TJ Smith hosted Payne on the visit. Like Payne, Smith also is a Georgia native.
The trip paid off in spades for the Wildcats.
“Payne’s family felt enough trust and confidence with the staff to stamp their approval, while the senior himself was blown away by the local support,” wrote Ryan Wallace, the K-State football recruiting editor for GoPowercat.com.
Though he lines up at linebacker for Buford High, Wallace wrote that the Wildcats recruited the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Payne to play the “Jack” position — the same spot Smith mans for this year’s team.
He comes from a winning pedigree: Buford is one of Georgia’s best programs. Including the 2001 season, the Wolves have won 12 state championships in the past 20 years. They lost in the title game four other times in that span. The last time they didn’t reach double-digit victories in a season was 1998.
Payne is a consensus three-star prospect according to both Rivals and 247Sports. He’s ranked as the No. 97 linebacker nationally in the 247Sports Composite; Payne also comes as the No. 97 player in Georgia for the 2022 class in the composite rankings.
With Payne’s pledge Sunday, the Wildcats now have 11 commitments in the 2022 cycle.
The others are athletes Silas Etter and Tyson Struber, defensive back Colby McAlister, linebackers Jake Clifton, Tobi Osunsanmi and Gage Stenger, offensive linemen Drake Bequiath and John Pastore, tight end Brayden Loftin and wide receiver Sterling Lockett.