The national and conference awards continue to roll in for Stetson football’s “dawg” (strong) safety Donald Payne. The Fayetteville, Ga. native was named the College Football Performance Awards’ National Linebacker of the Week on Sunday night.
Also on Sunday, Payne was recognized with his third Pioneer Football League Defensive Player of the Week award in three games. For perspective, nationally just four Division I players (Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Coastal Carolina’s Quinn Backus, Georgetown’s Robert McCabe and Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Bill Ross) were named their league’s Defensive Player of the Week at least three times for the entire 2012 season. Those four are from a total of 22 leagues which present a weekly conference defensive honor at the Division I level.
It is still September, yet Payne’s three PFL Defensive Player of the Week awards are unprecedented in league history for a single season. In addition to the current CFPA recognition, Payne was also previously honored nationally by The Sports Network which named him the FCS Freshman of the Week for his efforts in Stetson’s season-opening and program-restarting victory over Warner on Aug. 31.
The latest accolades for Payne came on the heels of yet another box score filling line in Saturday night’s 49-34 Hatter loss to Birmingham-Southern. Payne made seven tackles against the Panthers, including 1.5 tackles for loss, one of which was a sack. Payne forced two fumbles, recovered one of them for a touchdown, intercepted a pass, broke up another, and had a pass pressure. The touchdown came at a crucial juncture late in the third quarter, bringing Stetson to within a single point of Birmingham-Southern at 35-34.
On the season, Payne ranks fourth in the nation with his seven passes defended in three games (2.3 per game average). He leads Stetson with 28 tackles on the year (17 solo) while his four TFLs, two sacks and two interceptions all tie for the team lead. Payne has five pass break ups for those seven total passes defended, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (both for touchdowns) and one forced hurry. Payne’s 12 points scored tie wide receiver Rob Coggin for second on the team behind only kicker James LaGamma’s 24.
The Hatter captain’s name is hard to miss on the league’s latest stat report. Payne’s 28 tackles (9.3 per game) rank fifth in the PFL this fall and first amongst defensive backs while his four TFLs (1.33 per game) tie him for fourth in the league overall. His 2.3 passes defended per game leads the league while his pair of interceptions tie for the most in the PFL. Payne also leads the league in both fumbles forced and fumbles recovered.
The Hatters (1-2) will play their first-ever conference game on Saturday when Stetson plays host to two-time defending PFL champion San Diego (1-2) at 1 p.m. at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium in DeLand. Tickets can be purchased either online at GoHatters.com, or by calling 386-738-HATS.