Jordan Payton (6'2/205) of Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village,
Calif. is Scout's No. 6 receiver nationally, and he has been selected to play in
the inaugural Cal State All-Star Game in
Clovis, Calif. on December 23rd. He stopped by the combine tour in Santa Clarita
yesterday where he spoke about his commitment to USC and pending visits to other
universities around the country.
A soon to be four year starter at Oaks Christian, Payton posted 61 catches for
907 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior. His team has only lost three games in
his three years including a game against Westlake in the regular season last
year which was avenged in the playoffs.
Payton's good work for the Lions drew the attention of college recruiters early
in his career, including local powerhouse USC. Payton was extended a scholarship
offer by the Trojans as a sophomore and he accepted. Payton plans to take
advantage of the recruiting process including his allowed five official visits,
and Scout caught up with him Sunday to talk about USC and five more schools who
could be his future home.
"I committed to USC on March 11 of 2010," said Payton.
When asked what made him choose the Trojans, Payton didn't hesitate in talking
about the virtues of having a national power in his back yard.
"I'd say the whole area being close to home, and it's a great program. It's
not like I'm going to some bad program close to home, your going to a great
school academically. Having USC so close with the education and the alumni and
the football program itself is just phenomenal."
Payton has been committed to the Trojans for over a year, a period which saw USC
get sanctioned heavily by the NCAA. Payton has gone through the process with his
eyes wide open and has remained committed to the Trojans however wary of the
future attrition the scholarship reductions could have at his time at USC.
"I didn't think it was going to be that bad, and I don't think anyone
did," answered Payton when asked what he was feeling when the sanctions
were announced. "I still remember the day they got sanctioned, because
Antwuan Woods the defensive tackle from Taft called me, and he was
panicking." Taft had recently signed his Letter of Intent with USC as a
member of the Class of 2012. "He didn't know it was going to be that bad.
But you still wonder, when are the sanctions actually going to hit the school,
that's something you really have to focus on and think about."
While the post-season ban won't effect Payton's Class of 2012, the scholarship
reductions imposed on the Trojans could hinder USC's ability to compete at the
level they've been accustomed to over the course of the past decade, but the
staff at USC worries only about what they can control.
"To be honest, they don't really talk about it. They go about it like they
don't really have them. That was the first thing I got. They really put it to
tell the recruits 'You know what? Even though we have these, we're going to act
as if we don't. We're going to still win like we don't, and we're going to try
to compete for the AP National Championship like we don't have sanctions.' They
tell me I can be a great receiver at USC, but they don't discuss the whole
While Payton has been committed for over a year, Signing Day for the Class of
2012 is still 10 months away, and Payton is still planning on going through the
recruiting process and taking all five of his official visits before making a
final decision by putting his signature on a Letter of Intent on Wednesday
February 1, 2012.
For now at least Payton is adamant about taking his five official visits.
"I'm taking all five for sure, just because my coaches, my teammates, my
brother, my mom, my dad all told me to take five just to make sure that I'm
making the right decision. Why not take all five? You have them there."
When asked if he had to schedule those five visits today, Jordan hesitated at
the thought of having to narrow down a list today but still answered knowing
that he wouldn't need to use an official visit on USC whose campus is a mere
miles from his home.
In a hypothetical situation in which there were five weeks left before Signing
Day, Payton was asked where he'd be taking his official visits.
"Oh man," Payton said wistfully knowing the day of tough decisions is
rapidly approaching if not here yet. "I promised Arkansas so I'm going to
Arkansas. I'm going to Florida, Michigan, Cal, and Oklahoma [if they were this
"No one on the West Coast really knows anything about Arkansas. The
only thing I saw this year was that they were putting up a lot of points
throwing the ball. So that's definitely intriguing."
As of now, Cal is the only in state school on Payton's list not named USC.
"The coaches up there are great people. They showed that when I went up
there for their junior day. They not only care about the football part, but they
care about everything else. And I think Berkeley is like a curve ball, something
different. Something that you've never seen before, and you have to go up there
and experience it, and I liked it."
Oklahoma made a splash out West by signing three highly rated players from the
San Diego area in 2010 including receiver Kenny Stills, running back Brennan Clay, and athlete Tony Jefferson.
"It was big to see three California kids go to Oklahoma, two of them
start and be Freshmen All-American and one of them being a receiver. So seeing
that is [knowing] California kids can excel in that offense and in that program.
I like the wide receiver coach a lot (Jay Norvell). I think he knows a lot about the game. Plus you're talking about
Oklahoma, a program that has been winning for years and years and years, and
seeing all the great players that have come through there."
Florida's run of championships on both the gridiron and the hard court has taken
the Gator program national and has gotten the attention of more than one
recruit, including Payton.
"To be honest, growing up I never really liked Florida," Payton
said with a bit of a laugh. But in the past years I've been looking at them and
thinking 'Man, there are some winning vibes over there.' Charlie Weis is over
there now, it makes a difference. What's not to like about Florida?"
Michigan and Payton have more in common than some people might know, and it goes
beyond the coach they imported from San Diego.
"Back when I was young I always used to talk about Michigan for some odd
reason," said Payton knowing most young players don't idolize the Maize and
Blue in Southern California. "I always wore a Michigan shirt with a big ole
Michigan M on it thinking 'I'm going to play for Michigan one day.' I don't know
if that's realistic now, but they're definitely a school that I'm looking at and
taking seriously. They have a great West Coast offense from San Diego State now
in Coach Hoke. California coaches, California kid, it makes sense."
There's a saying amongst recruiters that says all an early commitment does it
lets the teams know who they have to beat. In this case, USC is in the driver's
"I'm committed somewhere, looking around, and in my head I believe I have
the right school [USC]. That's how I think. I believe I have the right school.
So in order to switch that, I'd have to step on a campus and be 'Wow here it
is.' Have that 'feeling' of the right school with everything being right,
coaches, campus...everything. I have a bond already with USC, so I'd have to be
in awe of the [other] school."