Ranking the Contenders: Four-star RB Gi'Bran Payne
Gi’Bran Payne has 25 offers but in recent days the four-star running back has narrowed his choices to five.
It’s an interesting and diverse group. Some programs are close in proximity to Payne at Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle and others are deep into SEC country.
The list is also intriguing because Payne has only been able to do virtual visits with the recruiting dead period pushed until the end of May. Some programs have other running backs higher on the board and there are other situations to consider as well. But Payne is sticking with this top five and it offers a glimpse into where his recruitment could be headed.
In today’s Ranking The Contenders, we look at Payne’s five front-runners and put them in order of likelihood where he will commit:
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Northwestern makes the most sense out of his top five for many reasons: The Wildcats offered Payne in late 2019 so the relationship has been building for a long time; Position coach Lou Ayeni has clearly made Payne a top target in the class and that could be influential; Current running back Cam Porter is from Payne’s school as is graduate assistant Jeremy Larkin, a former running back at Northwestern.
Before the COVID shutdown, Payne also visited Northwestern, and that could give the Wildcats a major edge when it comes to decision time. Especially if that happens before Payne can see any other programs in person.
2. NOTRE DAME
There are some interesting connections to Notre Dame that could make this a real possibility. Payne is a Midwest prospect and he has a great bond with new Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman from his time at Cincinnati so there is a built-in comfort level there already on the staff.
The communication between both sides has been very good and while there might be some bigger targets higher on Notre Dame’s board, Payne is a real option that could play out, especially if other running backs choose different schools.
Payne has not visited Gainesville yet but the Florida coaching staff seems to like him a lot. The Gators are looking for two running backs in the 2022 class so this is a real option that could continue to develop in the coming months. There is some hesitation because the Midwest running back hasn’t visited Florida yet, but if that happens and things go well then the Gators could be in a prime spot.
4. PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions made an impression on Payne by recruiting him hard early in the process and the four-star likes the running back tradition in Happy Valley. But this could be another situation where Penn State has some running backs higher on the list at this point. Nicholas Singleton is an in-state prospect. Jaziun Patterson has said Penn State is recruiting him the hardest. There are many others. Somewhere on the list is Payne but there are names ahead of him right now.
The feeling is that Alabama could be in wait-and-see mode when it comes to Payne for numerous reasons but mainly because there could be some running backs higher on the board. The Crimson Tide coaching staff really wants players to visit before they get over the top in recruiting them, especially during the COVID-19 shutdown.