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Tristan Payton is a “Program-changer”

By Matt Osborne
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An elite physical specimen at six-foot-one, 185 pounds, Tristan Payton possesses speed to burn on the perimeter.

“He’s a tremendous player, and a program-changer.”
~Former Florida WR Travis Taylor

Relatively speaking, the recruiting process got off to a slow start for 2015 wide receiver prospect Tristan Payton out of First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida.

After hauling in 50 receptions for 857 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, it was only natural that Payton would draw the attention of college coaches.

For the first couple of months after the season concluded, however, Payton was not drawing as much attention as he would have liked from programs in BCS conferences. While he had picked up multiple offers from mid-major programs by the beginning of February, Payton was still waiting to receive offers from many of the premier schools across the country.

But as his film continued to circulate throughout the recruiting circles and he was able to make appearances at numerous camps, those elusive BCS offers began arriving in bunches.

Seeing his stock quickly shoot through the roof was certainly gratifying, but Payton was still anxiously waiting on an offer from his dream school: the University of Florida.

Payton would get his opportunity to turn his dream into a reality when he attended Florida’s Junior Day on February 22. After talking with head coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, Payton was informed that he would be receiving an offer from the Gators.

With his dream offer now in hand, it didn’t take much time for Payton to go ahead and verbally commit to Florida.

“I took a visit to Gainesville this past Saturday, and it just felt good,” Payton stated on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. “All of the coaches are good and the program as a whole is very good. When I was coming up, Florida has been the school that I wanted to go to for the longest. I’m just happy that I got this offer.”

Though he has already made his verbal pledge early in the process, that does not change the fact that Payton has become one of the hottest prospects in the nation for the 2015 class.

Other schools are certain to continue to jump in with scholarship offers, and coaches will undoubtedly not cease to maintain a line of communication. And despite the fact that he grew up closely following the Florida program, Payton says that he will not completely discredit the possibility of ultimately having a change of heart before National Signing Day.

“I’m not going to say I’m shutting it down, but I like Florida a lot,” Payton said of his recruitment. “Other schools are going to have to come at me pretty hard to change my mind.”

An elite physical specimen at six-foot-one, 185 pounds, Payton possesses speed to burn on the perimeter. His frame also offers a nice target to quarterbacks, making him an especially dangerous threat in the vertical passing game.

Former Florida Gator and NFL wide receiver Travis Taylor, who has followed Payton closely during his prep career, had particularly glowing things to say about the Gators’ most recent perimeter prospect.

“He’s a tremendous player, and a program-changer,” Taylor commented on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. “He’s one of those guys that can really step into your program and be a guy who can make plays in the deep and intermediate passing games. I think the biggest thing about Tristan is that he is a great young man; that is what I enjoy most about Tristan.”

The Gators have been searching for dynamic playmakers at the wide receiver position for the past three or four seasons.

With Tristan Payton now set to join the program, it appears the Gators have found at least one young man capable of filling that role.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at