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Payne is school's 1st Division 1 Commit
January 14, 2013St. Lukes Episcopal School
MOBILE, Alabama -- St. Luke's senior running back George Payne committed to Southern Miss late Thursday night, becoming the school's first Division 1 athletic commitment.
"I just feel blessed to have this opportunity," Payne said. "I know a lot of guys don't get a chance to go to college, let alone play college football. This feels great."
Payne, a finalist for Class 1A Back of the Year, ran for 2,424 yards and 34 touchdowns this season in guiding the Wildcats to the playoffs for the first time.
"He committed last night," St. Luke's coach John Beverly said. "He's really excited about it, and we're excited for him. It's a big deal for him and for our school.
"George enjoyed the recruiting process, but thought now was the time to go ahead and commit. He really likes the new coaches and the new direction the program is taking. I think it will be a good fit for both."
New Southern Miss coach Todd Monken offered Payne a scholarship just before Christmas.
"It's a good program," Payne said. "I know they obviously struggled last year. But I like the new coaches, and I like the new offense. I think I'll be a good fit at running back for them."
Payne said USM coaches have told him he could have a chance to play next year if he comes in and works hard.
He is still planning to take an official visit to UAB this weekend and will visit Southern Miss next weekend.
"I am excited about Southern Miss, but my dad thought it would be a good experience to go ahead and take these visits," Payne said. "I'm fortunate to have this chance so I just want to make the most of it."