Florida State football picked up a big win last week, securing the commitment of 2021 blue chip defensive end prospect Patrick Payton. The Northwestern High product committed to Nebraska earlier in the cycle, but fortunately decided to stay in-state after de-committing from Frost’s Huskers. Following in the steps of former Northwestern and ‘Nole greats Marvin “Shade Tree” Jones and Marvin “Snoop” Minnis, Payton chose to leave Miami and head to Tallahassee.
And it’s a good get.
Let’s dive in.
Payton is long. This may seem obvious with a kid who is 6’5, but Payton has long arms on top of his already lanky frame. One of the most important attributes of any edge defender is their length. The difference of a couple inches can make the end man on the line considerably more difficult for offenses to deal with.
Payton has those extra few inches. FSU fans will remember how Bjoern Werner was able to peel off blocks on the edge and stop runners. The same year Werner was drafted, he measured in with 33.25” arms - 3rd overall pick Dion Jordan (as a Dolphins fan, ugh) had 33.8” arms, despite being 3 inches taller. Payton brings that type of length to the table.
The clips below showcase this length:
Lateral Agility & Athleticism
Project Pat may be slim and need to gain some weight before he can play at the next level, but he clearly has the athleticism to play at an ACC level. Your rational Miami fan friends who lament their staff not recruiting Payton harder will agree, though the FiVE RiNgZ Yo crowd on the internet won’t.
Anyway. Payton has really nice lateral agility and natural athleticism. He is only 205 pounds right now, so one of the question marks about his game is if he can retain this athleticism as he gains the size necessary to play on the edge at the next level.
Yeah, this kid can move.
What did the five fingers say to the football? SLAP
From the first play of his senior highlights, you can see Payton really likes to bat down passes. His length contributes to this, of course, but it’s good to see this sort of awareness from a high school player. This is something that will be decidedly more difficult to do in the college game, but Payton’s length should allow some of this to translate.
Pat Payton is a really nice player with tons of upside. As a skinny kid, it’s important to see how his athleticism holds up as he enters a college weightlifting program and adds weight to a skinny frame. Considering this, it is disappointing that he will not be early enrolling. The earlier he is able to benefit from college-level training and eating, the better.
I would expect his length and athleticism to be a nice fit for a field-side defensive end position. Payton is built to play more in space as the field side end or Sam outside linebacker role on the line of scrimmage — TN’s Lastnoleofkrypton noted that his agility is rare for his size, like a raw Brian Burns.
As always, if you’ve got questions about FSU’s moves on the recruiting trail or want to catch up on the latest #Tribe21 news, head to our official Florida State football recruiting thread.