Four-star defensive tackle Damon Payne announced his Top 10 schools, including USC, as he prepares for the 2021 recruiting cycle.
It may be Signing Day eve for the 2020 cycle, yet USC’s recruiting news on Tuesday has far more to do with the future than the present.
Take four-star defensive tackle Damon Payne, who took to Twitter to announce his Top 10 schools for 2021.
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USC made the cut for the Belleville, Michigan product, along with Penn State, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio State and LSU.
The Trojans made their offer for Payne back in 2018, so their contact with him has been well-established. However, with just three 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions, the future looks cloudy. One expert has and early bid on Ohio State as the favorite.
Payne ranks No. 31 in the class of 2021, according to the 247Sports composite. He is the No. 5 defensive tackle in the class.
Allen Trieu of 247Sports compared Payne to Fletcher Cox of the Philadelphia Eagles. Coming into his senior year of high school, he already “looks like a college-ready player.” Trieu noted how Payne “moves around better than the vast majority of kids his size.”
USC could certainly make use of the 6-foot-3, 297-pound playmaker on the defensive line. By the time Payne is ready to sign, Brandon Pili, Connor Murphy, Caleb Tremblay and Nick Figueroa will have graduated with Jay Tufele and Marlon Tuipulotu likely pondering moves to the NFL.
The Trojans already have a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Jay Toia out of Grace Brethren.
Of course, making inroads with Payne will be difficult with so much competition and no local connections. First and foremost USC will have to identify a defensive line coach to make the case to bring him to Los Angeles after dismissing Chad Kauha’aha’a to start the week.
The good news is the Trojans have a strong foundation for the class of 2021 already in place, certainly better than that of 2020 or 2019. Five-star quarterback Jake Garcia heads the class with Toia, four-star linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote and three-star wide receiver Velltray Jefferson.