I met Davien Payne by pure happenstance at a high school basketball game in my hometown of Murrieta at the end of December. His school was playing in our annual Murrieta Valley High School tournament and Davien was working as a team manager. The head basketball coach (a good friend of mine) and I were talking when Davien approached us, saw my Boise State pullover and exclaimed, “Since I was in middle school I’ve dreamed of playing at Boise State.”
The coach hastily introduced us before Davien was off to take care of his duties. He told me how Davien came from a severely dysfunctional and disadvantaged home. For all intents and purposes he was another Michael Oher of Blind Side fame, not sure where he would be sleeping from night to night. My friend said that he had been able to help give Davien some stability in his life and that the young man had made amazing strides over the previous year in terms of personal and academic growth. I asked if he had received any scholarship offers and my friend said that as far as he knew there were none.
I frankly didn’t think much of the meeting until the next week when I received an email from Davien asking how I might help him get his resume to the Bronco coaches. Surprised to say the least, I called my coach friend, and sure enough, he had given Davien my email address. I reminded him of the not-so-small detail that I was a BSU alum and how both of us could find ourselves in violation of NCAA recruiting rules.
I asked him to tell Davien that I could not have any contact with him and that he would probably be best served by going to the Boise State football website and filling out a recruit application. My friend apologized profusely and I assumed I was finished with the episode.
My curiosity got the best of me so I decided to check out Rivals.com and Scout.com to see if there was any data on him. I found nothing on those websites, but I did find some YouTube footage and his season stats and height and weight were listed on the school site. I can verify that Davien is one well-built kid and the 212 lbs. he lists as his weight is no exaggeration (unlike so many measurables on the recruiting data sheets).
I have followed college football recruiting for several years and I must say that I was surprised that a 212 lb. running back from Southern California, with 2,000 rushing yards in his junior year, was persona non grata in the two major recruit information databases through the month of January. Interestingly, by the end of February he finally showed up on both websites and had received a slew of offers from Pac-10 schools and Boise State. [It is noteworthy that as a sophomore Payne played behind Deontae Cooper, a highly sought after 4-star recruit who went to Washington. Even though Davien didn’t get much play time during his sophomore season, Cooper’s notoriety should have brought some attention to him by the end of his junior season.]
After putting the whole incident behind me I received another email from Davien in March. He said he was excited about the possibility of going to Boise State and could I please correspond and give my advice. Again, I went back to my coach friend prepared to give a stern rebuke, but this time he said he was no longer giving input into Davien’s life and they had not spoken in weeks. He did say that he was quite sure that Boise State would be Davien’s choice.
Sorry for the long story, but would I have been free to share my thoughts with young Mr. Payne in February; I believe he would have been a very early verbal commitment to Boise State.