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19 DAYS TO 2022 KICKOFF: VJ Payne

In which BracketCat counts down the 19th day until the 2022 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State safety VJ Payne.

#19 Ross Elder
Senior defensive back Ross Elder’s (19) graduation leaves open both a starting safety position and his No. 19 jersey. Incoming freshman VJ Payne could claim both before the 2022 season is over.
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

#19 VJ Payne

True Freshman | 6-3 | 192 lbs. | Gainesville, Georgia
VJ Payne
VJ Payne
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Safety
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Second-String
  • Status: On Scholarship

Victor J. Payne (b. March 17, 2004) is a hard-hitting defensive back who plans on majoring in kinesiology and may redshirt in 2022, although there is a possibility he sees playing time.

He prepped under head coach Bryant Appling at Buford High School in Georgia, where he was rated as a linebacker by 247Sports, which placed him at No. 80 in the Class of 2022.

Payne earned first-team all-region honors as he helped to lead the Wolves to a 14-1 record and a state championship as a senior, following additional state championships during both his sophomore and junior seasons. He also competed in track and field.

Payne selected the Wildcats over impressive Power 5 offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Boston College, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, USC and Vanderbilt, as well as Appalachian State, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Troy, UAB and UConn.

His primary recruiters were running backs coach Brian Anderson and his new defensive coordinator (and position coach), Joe Klanderman, who is very high on his young prospect:

As soon as freshmen come in, two of our guys are going to have chances. There are guys who are as good physically as anybody we’ve recruited since we’ve been here. In my room, in particular, Jordan Perry and VJ Payne, those are going to be probably the best two looking safeties in our room. One is 6-foot-2 ½ and the other is 6-3, and they’re both around 200 pounds and both can run, and both played high-level high school football. How quickly they can adapt to college football and the pace is going to determine a lot about how quickly they get on the field. Even if we can use them in a special teams role in the fall, it wouldn’t surprise me because they both open it up.

Here’s what head coach Chris Klieman had to say about Payne’s potential when he signed:

VJ can do everything. He can play safety. He can play linebacker. He’ll blitz. He’ll cover runs and strikes people, plays all over the field. ... So excited to have VJ. They just won the state championship last weekend. Excited to have VJ join the program.