Alabama Football Recruiting: 4 Reasons Why Daron Payne Will Sign with Alabama
Daron Payne‘s recruitment is the latest extension of the most heated rivalry in college football between Alabama and Auburn.
Both in-state powers are trying to lure the 5-star defensive tackle from Birmingham, and he’s gone on record stating that each program has a special pull for him.
“I grew up an Auburn fan, so I’ve been wanting to play for them all of my life.” Payne told Bryan Matthews of Auburn Undercover. “Then I got the Alabama offer, and then (it’s like) everybody wants to play for ‘Bama.”
Similar to the recruitments of Rashaan Evans and Reuben Foster, Payne’s recruitment will be a fight to the end between Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn.
What are some of the main reasons Tide fans have to be confident in landing Payne?
*Unless otherwise noted, all rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
The Birmingham area has been a fruitful territory for the Tide under Saban.
Payne was on campus for the Tide’s spring game on April 19, and, according to Charles Power of BamaOnline (subscription required), Payne will be back in Tuscaloosa in a few weeks to participate in the Tide’s summer camp for offensive and defensive linemen.
With Payne becoming a frequent visitor on campus, it only increases the Tide’s chances of landing his signature next February.
Opportunity to Earn Early Playing Time
Alabama has racked up along the defensive line in recent recruiting classes, but, if there’s one position where the Tide could use an impact player, it’s at nose tackle.
With projected starting nose tackle Brandon Ivory entering his senior season, none of the other players currently on the roster have established themselves as his clear-cut successor.
After watching 5-star talents and defensive ends A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen make immediate contributions as true freshmen last season, Payne is a physical specimen who may be able to make a similar impact along the interior of the Tide’s defensive line.
Tide Making Him a Priority
While several elite defensive tackles are considering the Tide, it’s clear that Saban and his staff are going full throttle after Payne.
Offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, who is ranked as the nation’s top recruiter according to Power (subscription required), is Payne’s lead recruiter.
At the Birmingham Nike NFTC camp in Birmingham two months ago, Payne told BamaOnline (subscription required) that the Tide were recruiting him the hardest.
"Right now it's back at Bama,” Payne said. “We're on the phone every day and trying to talk to my mom and all that stuff."
While recruiting is always fluid, the Tide have laid a strong foundation with Payne that will make it tough for anyone to beat them out for his services.
Saban’s History with Landing in-State 5-Star Recruits
As the state's only current 5-star prospect, Payne is the biggest prize currently on the market in the Yellowhammer State.
According to 247Sports, since 2009, Alabama has signed nine of the state’s 13 recruits who have earned the coveted 5-star designation.
Additionally, since Saban’s first full cycle in 2008, Alabama has signed the state’s top-rated player every year except 2012—when Jameis Winston signed with Florida State.
With that trend in mind, and given the Tide’s need at defensive tackle and the fact that Payne resides less than an hour away from Tuscaloosa, it’s hard to envision the 6’2”, 316-pounder ending up anywhere other than the Capstone.