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Crimson Spotlight Player Focus: DL Da’Ron Payne

Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Before facing his former boss in the 2015 Southeastern Conference title game, Florida Gators’ coach Jim McElwain was quoted in referring to a few players on Alabama’s defensive line as “creatures.”

Although it lost Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster to the National Football League, the Crimson Tide returns the strongest guy in its front seven. 

Crimson Spotlight #4: Da’Ron Payne 

Position: Defensive line 

Number: #94 

Classification: Junior 

Height: 6-2 

Weight: 310 pounds 

2016 stats: 36 TKLs, 3.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 3 QBHs 


Da’Ron Payne was the prize in Alabama’s 2015 recruiting battle versus Auburn.  

Hailing from Birmingham, Payne was a five-star prospect that earned a spot on the ESPN 300 at No. 48 via Shades Valley High School. After enrolling in a class that included Damien Harris, Ronnie Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Calvin Ridley, his abilities to power through double teams and create negative plays immediately drew the attention of the Tide’s coaching staff. 

Following a productive freshman year in 2015, Payne returned as a sophomore and collected 36 tackles – including 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. His size (6-2/310) helped Alabama’s defensive line limit opponents to 64 rushing yards and 262 total yards of offense. 

Da'Ron Payne || "Relentless Lineman" || Sophomore Highlights || 2016

He’s turned in 49 tackles, two sacks, two pass breakups and four quarterback pressures in two seasons; however, a monster year in the coming fall produces a high draft stock for Payne.  

Next to his athletic prowess, Payne’s exploits in the weight room is second to none. During Alabama’s strength and speed testing back in the spring, he was among the team leaders in squatting (653 pounds), bench press (545 pounds) and power clean (365 pounds, team-high). 

Even in carrying a 300-pound frame, his 40-time was clocked at 5.03 seconds. 

Payne has been named to a few preseason award lists, including Outland, Bronko Nagurksi and Chuck Bednarik honors. While head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt hope he can develop as an inside pass rusher, offensive linemen consistently have a rough time handling Payne. 

2017 projected stats 

47 TKLs 

6.5 TFLs 

3 sacks 

5 quarterback hurries

Read more from Crimson Spotlight Series:

Crimson Spotlight #1 Calvin Ridley

Crimson Spotlight #2 Trevon Diggs 

Crimson Spotlight #3 Josh Jacobs

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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