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Alabama Picks Up Commitment from 5-Star Defensive Tackle

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Elite Defensive Tackle Daron Payne Announces His Decision to Roll with the Tide During the UnderArmour All-American Game

StudentSports

After a year of every person in the state of Alabama speculating about his decision, Daron Payne finally committed to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide over the Auburn Tigers.

The 6'2" 335 pound lineman is a massive pick-up for the Tide, in more ways than one. Rivals.com has him listed as the #3 overall defensive tackle and the top player in the state of Alabama. 247Sports composite rankings has Payne as the 6th best defensive tackle and the 41st best overall player in the class of 2015.

Payne has been listed anywhere from 325 pounds to north of 350 through the course of his senior season, and checked in right at 330 for the UnderArmour game this week. Payne mentioned that he had been slimming down to improve his speed and explosiveness, and that his goal is to sustain a playing weight of around 315.

At one of Nike's SPARQ combines last summer, Payne ran a 5.24 forty yard dash at a whopping 348 pounds. Even more impressive was his 4.80 shuttle time, which demonstrates his elite lateral agility for someone of his size. Payne finished the camp with an 84.0 final SPARQ score (here is my former article discussing the components of SPARQ), which effectively puts him in the top 14% of all college-bound defensive linemen in pure athleticism.


Payne is a powerful, disruptive player. He flashes a terrifying bull rush and is often seen pushing centers and guards backwards into the opposing quarterback or running back. He is strong enough to take on double teams, and has the lateral quickness to cover two gaps if needed.

As a pass rusher, Payne is still very unrefined. His only technique is a bull rush, and his hands are not very active. His stance before the play is stiff, and as such he does not always get the initial explosion that he has the ability to get.

Payne has spent most of his high school as a tilted nose tackle in a 4-3 defense. In Nick Saban's scheme, Payne would likely be A'Shawn Robinson's heir apparent at that same position, but would also be expected to learn to play the nose guard in a base 3-4 defense.

With all the players already on Alabama's talented defensive line, adding the elite Daron Payne is just an embarrassment of riches for the Tide, and Nick Saban can afford to let Payne learn for a year or two before throwing him into the fire.