Donald Payne – Safety – Senior – Stetson
Alex Khvatov: What are your measurements (height, weight and forty time)?
Donald Payne: 6’0, 220. I don’t know my forty time.
Alex Khvatov: Where are you currently training for the NFL Draft?
Donald Payne: I am training in Atlanta, Georgia at the Chip Smith’s facility. We have about 40 total players and about 15 DB’s right now.
Alex Khvatov: Coming out of high school, what programs showed interest in
Donald Payne: I was a safety in high school my junior and senior years after playing CB the first two years. I didn’t get recruited highly. I had a couple of schools looking at me like Georgia State. Grambling and North Carolina A&T wanted me.
Alex Khvatov: Why did you choose Stetson?
Donald Payne: They didn’t have an athletic facility when I came on a visit. But when we came to camp, they had a brand-new facility. Stetson was starting a football program, and they talked me into it. I started all four years. I was a captain for four years.
Alex Khvatov: What are your strengths?
Donald Payne: Instincts and tackling
Alex Khvatov: What areas of your game are you trying to improve upon?
Donald Payne: Definitely my footwork and technique. I can get away with it at the college level, but I would have to work on my technique at the next level.
Alex Khvatov: Were you invited to any college all-star games?
Donald Payne: I was invited to the College Gridiron Showcase in Texas. I had an injury that bothered me towards the end of my senior season. It was a stinger issue. I wanted to hold off on contact and fully recover.
Alex Khvatov: Describe your overall career at Stetson.
Donald Payne: It started off slowly. We had 120 freshmen. We all redshirted the first year. We practiced against each other. We won three games the first year. Next year, we won five games. We couldn’t finish games in the end. We lost all of our games by less than 10 points. My junior and senior year, we won only five games. We had a No.1 defense in the conference my sophomore year. I was a leader of the defense and a captain all four years. We had our own little mindset on defense. We didn’t want to let anyone score. I won player of the year my freshman year in the conference. I was defensive player of the year in the conference the last three years. I had over 500 tackles in my career. I was a three- time All-American.
Alex Khvatov: Who was the best teammate that you played with?
Donald Payne: The best teammate I played with is my best friend #56 DE Davion Belk. He is training in Orlando right now. We talk every day. He definitely could have played in any other school. We came here together.
Alex Khvatov: What is the highlight of your career up to this point?
Donald Payne: I won conference freshman of the year. My sophomore year, we played against Campbell. I had 30 tackles, which tied an NCAA record. The game against Campbell this season also comes to mind. We went to overtime. They were kicking the game-winning FG. I blocked the field goal, and one of my teammates took it 90 yards. Then he tossed it to me for the last two or three yards, and I scored a TD. It made top 3 plays on SportsCenter.
Alex Khvatov: What is your favorite NFL team?
Donald Payne: I have always been a Falcons fan. I have been going to their games since I was five years old.
Alex Khvatov: Who is your favorite NFL player?
Donald Payne: I liked Tyrann Mathieu when he was at LSU.
Alex Khvatov: What is the most important trait for a safety?
Donald Payne: You can be fast or strong, but instincts are huge. Instincts are number one for me.
Alex Khvatov: What can we expect from you at your Pro Day?
Donald Payne: I basically have to show myself. I have to show that I am worthy to play in the NFL. My Pro Day is at UCF on March 22nd.
Alex Khvatov: What players on your team should we keep an eye on for next
Donald Payne: One guy is OLB Jeb Boudreaux. I have led the conference in tackles every year. I missed one game this year, and Jeb led the conference in tackles overall. He is a force. He is also up there in TFL’s in the conference. On the offensive side of the ball, our QB Colin McGovern didn’t play this year. He messed up his hip in the fall. He is a senior. He will be a captain. The sky is the limit for him.
Alex Khvatov: What do you enjoy most about football?
Donald Payne: The competition. I have been a competitor since I have been a kid. I compete in everything. Football gives me an outlet.
Alex Khvatov: What are your hobbies?
Donald Payne: I am a chill guy. I hang out with friends and I like to relax. I like basketball and go karting. I like to be outdoors.
Alex Khvatov: What do you want to do with your life after your football
career is over?
Donald Payne: I was a finance major, and my minor was in management. I graduated in December. I want to get into criminal justice issues. I would like to get involved in big social justice issues. I watch movies and TV shows on social justice issues. I want to get involved with those movements.
Alex Khvatov: What makes you unique?
Donald Payne: I have been raised right. My dad passed away when I was 13. My younger brother and I didn’t have a father figure growing up. My mom has always been into sports. She knows so much about football. My mom knows defenses and formations. She is strong and she has kept me grounded in the church. I love her to death.
Alex Khvatov: Finish the sentence, Donald Payne is….
Donald Payne: A goal setter. Football is a dream. It was a childhood dream for me. Everyone dreams, but my high school coach told me to be a goal setter.