True Freshman | 6-2 | 255 lbs. | Peculiar, Missouri
- Position: Defensive End
- Previous College: None
- Projection: Redshirt
- Status: On Scholarship
Nicholas Anthony Payne Jr. (b. Nov. 12, 1998) signed with K-State as a defensive end on National Signing Day. With steady weight gain, he could be a future defensive tackle.
Payne played under head coach Tom Kruse for Raymore-Peculiar High School, where he was regarded as the nation’s 13th-best strongside defensive end and the best player in the state of Missouri in the Class of 2017 by 247Sports.
He also was named the 53rd-best overall defensive end by ESPN, and a two-time first-team all-state and all-district performer by the Missouri Football Coaches Association.
Payne was named to the USA Today Sports/American Family Insurance All-USA Missouri team and selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl in Dallas, Texas, following the 2016 season. He had earned all-metro honors from The Kansas City Star as a senior.
Payne was a member of the 2016 All-Simone Team as one of the top players in the Kansas City metro area and a finalist for the 2016 Buck Buchanan Memorial Award as the best lineman/linebacker in the Kansas City metro area.
He recorded 80 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and eight sacks, and forced three fumbles, as a senior for the Panthers a year after totaling 61 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Ian Boyd at SportsTreatise is fairly high on Payne’s potential as a defensive tackle:
Payne is a very powerful and sudden kid that, like (Eli) Huggins, will probably grow into a 3-technique, but I think could be more disruptive and more difficult to move on run downs. He’s good at getting low and making himself hard to root out, but he’s also got more lateral athleticism than Huggins and can slant and stunt around some or just attack a guard’s shoulder and blow by him.