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LAS VEGAS - When Jordan Payton committed to USC more than a year ago last March, he was under the impression that recruiting would dramatically slow down, maybe even stop, and he could focus on other things.
The Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian wide receiver could not have been more wrong.
"That was the whole point of me committing was to end it early but it actually attracted more colleges," Payton said last weekend at the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7.
"Nowadays, kids de-commit like it's nothing. I can tell you right now the recruiting process is at full force and I thought it would be nothing at this point. I thought I'd just be working out and chilling."
Florida, Michigan, Miami and California have been particularly relentless with Payton, a 6-foot-2, 199-pound prospect who said he listens to all the recruiting pitches to be fair to himself and the schools but that he makes it clear to the college coaches that he's still firmly committed to the Trojans.
That's where a particular misconception comes in with Payton - that he's looking around and could head elsewhere. Payton said rumors of that sort are misguided but that he still plans to visit schools just so he doesn't shortchange himself.
"I listen to it all," said Payton, who has been selected to play in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. "That's why there is this misconception that I'm going to de-commit. I listen to every school. I'm not just going to deny them because I'm committed but I tell them how it is and what I'm thinking.
"I'll be at Notre Dame. My older cousin, her husband is a professor there so I'm going to go there and stay with them and see that. I'm going to Ann Arbor. I've never seen those places so why not go? Those are some great college places to see."
Even though he committed to USC more than a year ago, the Trojans' coaching staff is still forced to recruit him because so many other colleges are trying to get in his ear. The slow down he expected after his pledge has not happened.
Payton, who played with the 1925 All-Stars in the Badger event, said he talks to USC assistant coach Ed Orgeron about twice a week and now that he's committed the conversations are different but USC still stays in close contact.
"When you commit they still talk to you but they talk to you like they're family," Payton said.
"They ask questions about certain people, at least to me, because I'm so hands-on with recruiting. I talk to Coach Orgeron probably once or twice a week. He's a phenomenal dude and he's recruiting so hard so you have to respect that. I still talk to them a lot."
Arizona State, Boise State, Arkansas, Cal, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, SMU, Tennessee, UCLA and Washington have offered Payton, who finished with 61 catches for 840 yards and nine touchdowns in his junior season. He's also a standout on defense.
The four schools mentioned above have been particularly involved with recruiting Payton, trying to sell their particular program on him and seeing if he'd be interested in coming to campus.
Since he's been at least mildly responsive to others teams, there is this perception that he's open to de-committing.
But Payton claims that is not the case at all.
"I don't take it personally," he said. "I tell them we'll see on signing day."