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Former USC Commit Jordan Payton Back on Market

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Unlike some of his former high school teammates, wide receiver recruit Jordan Payton isn’t part of a famous family. But with a name combining two of the greatest athletes of our time - Michael Jordan and Walter Payton - don’t be surprised if this wide receiver is playing on Sundays soon.

Payton is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound pass-catcher out of Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, CA, which can be dubbed “Celebrity High.” The school has seen a number of celebrities’ children play football there.

WR Trey Smith, son of movie star Will Smith from his first marriage, and QB Trevor Gretzky, son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, were Payton’s teammates up until 2010.

QB Nick Montana, son of Joe Montana and a current member of the Washington Huskies (not to mention former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen) also suited up for the school in Southern California.

But while those names light up in neon, it’s Payton’s numbers that stand out to college football recruiters for the class of 2012. He had 61 catches for 907 yards and 10 touchdowns in a shortened junior season after compiling 45 for 1,088 and 18 during his sophomore campaign.

As such, Payton had drawn interest from many top school around the country before committing to USC - home of former Oaks Christian running back Mark Tyler - in March of 2010.

But Payton announced in July that he will break his commitment to the Trojans, who have been dealing with NCAA sanctions. Even though USC’s postseason ban expires after the 2011 season, Payton is back on the market.

“It’s been on my mind for a while, ever since the sanctions hit them and they wanted me to come out and say I was only with USC, so I had to do what I had to do,” Payton told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in July.

“I couldn’t do that and come out that I was only USC. I’ve said all along that I’ve been exploring my options. It’s really important that I choose the right school.”

He told the Los Angeles Times that he is considering Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame, California and Arizona State. However, the Democrat-Gazette reported that he also has a strong interest in Arkansas.

Payton told the newspaper that he may take an official visit to watch the Razorbacks play defending national champion Auburn on October 8. The blue-chip wide receiver also said in the report that he feels comfortable with head coach Bobby Petrino and the rest of Arkansas’ coaching staff - including receivers coach Kris Cinkovich.

But he has other reasons for putting Arkansas high on his list.

“Two, it’s the fan base and the strong support and how they believe in their team,” Payton told the Democrat-Gazette. “And three, it’s the offense. Overall that’s a pretty good system right there.”

Payton has yet to make a final decision about his college destination, telling the Democrat-Gazette that comfort level with the coaches and immediate playing time will factor into his decision.

According to his Rivals.com profile, he took his visit to Michigan last weekend and will begin his Oklahoma visit on September 23 and Penn State visit on November 11.

What are teams fawning over Payton for?

Well, he’s an exemplary athlete who made his presence felt on the field immediately in high school, where he scored seven touchdowns as a freshman.

To go along with his dazzling sophomore campaign, Payton added 30 tackles and three interceptions as a defensive back. He brings a 4.49 time in the 40-yard dash - an all-important measuring stick for college and NFL skill position players - and still has his senior year to mature.

“I think Jordan could play offense or defense in college, but he probably will stick with receiver if he has a choice,” Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell told the Los Angeles Daily News last year.

“He has good speed, he runs good patterns, and he has great hands. Plus, he’s a very competitive kid who wants to do well for the team.”

According to the Daily News, Payton also was an accomplished basketball player and track sprinter before giving up those sports to focus on football. It looks like he has made a good decision.

He told the newspaper that, no, he is not related to NFL legend Walter Payton, though “some people say that,” but his bloodlines don’t need to be famous for them to provide a useful pedigree.

The Daily News reported that his father, Jerry, was a former linebacker at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, while his brother, Michael, played wide receiver at Oregon State.

They’re not the Smiths, Gretzkys or Montanas, but Jordan Payton has the chance - and ability - to put his Paytons on the map.

 
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