December 18, 2011

Payne confirms commitment

Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College safety Chris Payne still went on his visit to Kentucky after committing to Texas Tech earlier this week, but the Bluegrass State just didn't compare to Lubbock.

The at home atmosphere the Red Raiders offered him on his official visit was just too much to turn down.

"I can honestly say it was how cool Tommy Tuberville is," Payne said. "The way he handles everything is like he's never too up and never too down. And just the facilities were a plus. And what they're trying to get to. I had been through this recruiting thing already and it's nothing new to me.

"But when I went down there I was like 'wow. I've never seen stuff like this before.' The whole time I was there, there was never a doubtful moment and it just felt like home. I didn't feel like I was away from home. It was a home away from home."

Gulf Coast teammates and now-Tech commits Rashard Fortenberry and Javon Bell said Payne had been committed to the Red Raiders as early as the end of the workweek, but Payne had been tough to track down until Sunday afternoon when he completed his Kentucky visit.

The family theme bled into the idea of playing with some of his Gulf Coast teammates on the next level.

"Playing with my teammates is going to be real cool," Payne said. "I know these guys, I know what kind of talent they're going to bring to the table and what kind of work ethic they bring to the table. The coaches at Gulf Coast taught us to love winning and we really never lost and that's something we want to bring here.

"We're going to work hard because that's what you have to do to win. You've had to work hard to get to where we've winded up at Tech and that's what we're going to do."

Payne is a player with three years of NCAA eligibility remaining and that made him an extremely attractive option to bolster the Red Raider secondary. But the Red Raiders weren't the only guys in on him.

Kentucky made a good push for Payne and made sense for the Columbia, S.C., native who signed a letter of intent with South Carolina out of high school.

"I took the visit because you never know what's out there unless you see it," Payne said. "I didn't want to not take the visit. Kentucky is a nice place, a gorgeous town, but I felt so much at home with Texas Tech. Texas Tech is the place for me and they way they want to use me, that's where I want to play at."

Payne has some lofty goals for himself once he gets to campus. They sound like a good match for the coaching staff that recruited him to Tech and a fan base that expects to get back to winning seasons.

"I want to win a Big 12 Championship," Payne said. "No if, ands or buts, I want to win one. My second goal is I want to be one of the best defenders and one the best defender in the nation this coming up year. I want to lead this defense.

"I've got so many big goals, man, and I want to reach them all. I always set my standards high."

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