Notre Dame Spring Football Game
Listed measurements: 5-foot-9 ⅛, 204 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Payne has all four seasons of eligibility remaining thanks to prudently playing in only four games last year.
Depth Chart: Payne may exit preseason practices as the No. 2 running back behind junior Audric Estimé. Three months ago, that role was undoubtedly Logan Diggs’s, before he transferred to LSU. Six months ago, senior Chris Tyree would have also been ahead of Panye, but he moved to receiver at the start of spring practices. That position switch alone suggests some confidence in Payne’s potential.
Recruiting: Payne signed a National Letter of Intent with Indiana in December of 2021, in part because he got along well with Hoosiers running backs coach Deland McCullough. When McCullough became Notre Dame’s running backs coach that winter, Payne asked Indiana to release him from his NLI.
The Hoosiers had no obligation to do so. But in modern college football, that is the expectation and it is obviously a reasonable one. Indiana granted it, and the No. 21 running back in the class, per rivals.com, signed with the Irish in mid-April of 2022.
CAREER TO DATE
Payne’s recruitment was dampened by his focus on Indiana as well as some high school injuries. None of them were overly concerning, but they limited his highlights and somewhat seemed like a trend. A senior-year hamstring injury, in particular, lingered into the summer before he arrived in South Bend. Payne has said he was not 100 percent until October of his freshman year as a result of that lingering worry.
Combining that with Notre Dame’s running back depth in 2022, there was no need to rush him into playing time. Payne played in only the last four games of the season.
2022: 4 games; two carries for five yards.
Even back when the Irish…