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Payton signs to Jacksonville State University

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell presented Jacquez Payton with a parting gift upon signing to Jacksonville State University.

Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell presented Jacquez Payton with a parting gift upon signing to Jacksonville State University.

Georgiana senior Jacquez Payton joined a legion of other talented athletes around the country on National Signing Day by inking a football scholarship to Jacksonville State University.

Payton, who’s earned a name for himself on the football field and the basketball court and Georgiana, said that he would likely play basketball for Jacksonville State, as well.

Payton said that it was the personal relationship that he’d built with the university that sealed the deal.

“The coaching staff really showed that they really wanted me,” Payton said.

“I got mail from them every day, and the coaches came by to watch me play.  They even came to my basketball practices, and my defensive back coach came to watch me play in Red Level.  When I went to go visit, it just felt like home.”

Payton’s current home at Georgiana will have a rather large vacancy to fill next year, according to coaches Ezell Powell and Kirk Norris.

“For me, he was a tremendous talent,” Powell said. “He helped me make playcalling on offense easier, and playcalling on defense easier because you could put him on the best receiver and not necessarily have to worry about that best receiver all night.  Offensively, we knew that we could give the ball to him at any moment on a hitch, a slant, a go route or a sweep out of the backfield, and he would go the distance with it.

“It was fun watching him grow and develop over the three years not only on the field, but he got better in the classroom and in the weight room.  I saw him grow and mature to the point that he’s ready to take that next step in his life, and use what he’s learned to push forward and be successful.”

Norris said that void would be felt in the arena of basketball, as well.

“There’s no doubt he’s been one of the premier athletes to come through this school, or the town of Georgiana,” Norris said. “And the longevity that he did it with—he’s been playing varsity football since ninth grade and varsity basketball since eighth grade.

“And it’s not just the fact that he’s a talented athlete, but he’s a wonderful kid.  I’ve enjoyed having him and spending the time I’ve spent with him.  It’ll be a loss not only to me as a person when he leaves, but to the school and community, too.”

Payton is set to play a role for Jacksonville State that’s very similar to the one he’s come to know on the field at Georgiana.

“I’m playing defensive back, and they’ll use me on offense on occasions,” Payton said.

“They’ll probably put me at wide receiver in the wild cat offense, and I’ll play kick return and punt return.  Whatever they need me on special teams, I’ll do.”

But his work isn’t quite done at Georgiana.  Payton and the rest of the Panthers are on the verge of playoff play, and there’s a very real chance for him to cap off his senior year in unprecedented fashion.

“It would be tremendous, because Georgiana has never won a championship,” Payton said.

“And I don’t think we’ve ever been undefeated in the regular season.  And it would be good for us to bring back a championship to Georgiana because everybody loves Georgiana basketball.  Our home games are packed, and even the away games.  It would be tremendous to get that Class 1A state championship and bring it back to Georgiana.”