There has been no shortage of recognition for the steady play of Stetson “dawg” safety Donald Payne’s play in both DeLand or around the Pioneer Football League. On Wednesday, that recognition reached a national level when he was named as one of 20 players for the Jerry Rice Award watch list.
The third-year trophy honors the top first-year player at the Football Championship Subdivision level and is named for the Hall of Fame wide receiver who played collegiately at the FCS level for Mississippi Valley State. Towson running back Terrance West was the inaugural winner in 2011 while Villanova quarterback John Robertson took home last year’s prize.
Payne was named the PFL’s Defensive Player of the Week following each of Stetson’s first three games, becoming the first player in the league’s history to ever win that honor three times in an entire season. Payne was named the national Freshman of the Week by The Sports Network after the Aug. 31 Warner game and the national Linebacker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards after the Sept. 21 game against Birmingham-Southern.
Payne has recorded 53 tackles through Stetson’s five games thus far, 35 of them solo. He has 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, seven pass breakups for nine total passes defended, 1 quarterback hurry, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns scored.
His nine passes defended in five games tie him for sixth in the nation. Payne also ranks eighth nationally in forced fumbles, 26th in fumbles recovered, 31st in interceptions, fifth in solo tackles and 13th in total tackles.
The Hatters are back on the field tomorrow when they play host to Dayton at 1:00 p.m. at Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand. Tickets are still available and can be purchased either online at GoHatters.com/tix or over the phone at (386) 822-HATS.