Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteers have picked up another big commitment, this time from 4-star cornerback D'Andre Payne.
For Tennessee, the streak of being one of the hotter teams on the 2014 recruiting trail continues. Payne is yet another important commitment for Jones and his staff, and he's a very talented one at that.
Payne is ranked as the No. 17 cornerback in the 2014 class, so he's a considered a top recruit. He's also ranked as the No. 2 player from Washington D.C., both according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
Tennessee's newest commitment took to Twitter to announce his decision:
D'Andre Payne @realdpayne
I Have Officially Committed To The University Of Tennessee!! #VFL #VolNation #RiseToTheTop #bossteam4/3/2013, 3:45:26 PM
With the addition of Payne, Jones' 2014 class now stands at seven commitments, and it's shaping up to be a very formidable group. In fact, 2014 could end up being a monumental recruiting cycle for the Volunteers, and if Jones and his staff continue recruiting with this type of efficiency and conviction—it will be.
Jones is definitely bringing an aura of confidence and direction to Tennessee recruiting, and it all starts with the change of culture. He's recruiting players that want to be a part of the rebuild, and that started by bringing in a few legacy players. Those recruits have a family connection to the program, and that's the type of player that you can build a foundation around. It's all about pride.
From there, he's been able to build some hype around the program on the recruiting trail, and it's payed off swimmingly.
Tennessee's big commitment is 5-star running back Jalen Hurd, and for all intents and purposes he projects to be a star for the Volunteers if he remains committed. Four-star safety Todd Kelly also has star potential, and now the same could be said of Payne.
He has very good footwork and has the ability and speed to flip his hips, turn and run with the receiver. That's a skill that all corners need, but Payne can do so at a high level. He runs a 4.4 40 according to 247Sports. He gets a very good break on the ball and he doesn't appear to struggle with a false step in either his backpedal or break.
Payne displays good vision and recognition when the ball is in the air, and he has good length and uses his body position and hands well to deflect the ball. He checks in at 5'9.5'', 172 pounds (247Sports).
Finally, Payne can be an extremely physical defender who should be able to jam at the line of scrimmage in passing situations, or set the edge, rip off a block and play strong against the run at or near the line of scrimmage.
Tennessee is getting a very complete cornerback recruit and he should only get better with experience during his senior year.
The future of Tennessee football is very bright, and the same could be said for Payne's future. The next step for Jones will be keeping him committed in an effort to merge the potential that both parties display.
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