If you ask Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley five-star defensive tackle Payton Page for the biggest reason why Clemson is one of his top schools, he will say it’s because of the way the Tigers make him feel when he’s on campus.
“When I go to Clemson, they treat me like family, first,” Page told The Clemson Insider on Monday during our Tour of Champions visit to see him at Dudley High. “They actually say hey to my family first, then me.”
Page’s family has grown fond of Clemson as well and get a kick out of the fact that he is being recruited by Dabo Swinney and the Tigers.
“They love it. They can’t stop talking about it,” Page said. “It’s like ‘Wow, you’re really talking to Dabo Swinney.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah…’ So, it’s kind of crazy.”
Page has visited Clemson several times, most recently for its elite junior day event on Jan. 25 when he hit it off with Corona (Calif.) Centennial five-star defensive end Korey Foreman, the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2021 class who committed to the Tigers while on campus that day.
“It’s just crazy because coming in, I think everybody’s going to be like, ‘Oh, that’s the No. 1 player in the world, he’s cocky,’ stuff like that,” Page said. “He was actually real calm, collected. I’m over here talking to him like a regular dude. We didn’t talk about no rankings, we were just talking about how good it would be if we went to Clemson together.”
Page knows he has a chance to be a part of something special if he were to join Foreman and other guys like Bryan Bresee on Clemson’s defensive line.
“It would be kind of crazy,” he said with a wide smile. “Just wow … Him at D-end, I’m at D-tackle, Bryan at D-tackle would be kind of crazy.”
Clemson defensive tackles coach Todd Bates is Page’s primary recruiter, and the two have built a strong bond.
“To be honest, we don’t even talk about like football no more,” Page said. “We’re talking about how your diet’s going, what you’re eating, what you’re doing and stuff like that. He be asking if I got a girlfriend, stuff like that, like just funny questions out of nowhere.”
“I’m real tight,” he added of his relationship with Bates. “Some of these coaches, there’s this thing called over-recruiting. They do a little too much sometimes and it makes me feel like I’m uncomfortable with them sometimes. But Coach Todd, it just feels like I’m talking to one of my bros to be honest.”
As for Swinney, Page told a funny story about a lengthy meeting he had with Clemson’s head coach during one of his visits.
“When I talk to head coaches, it’s usually for like 15-20 minutes,” Page said. “I walked in — it was like the end of the visit — I walked in at 5 o’clock and I left at 8:30. I’m not going to say I was tired, but yeah I was tired. I’m still listening … I see that he cares and stuff like that.”
Page knows that Clemson has a history of producing NFL defensive linemen and could help him accomplish his goal of playing at the highest level.
“Coming from the school that I am at right now, straight hood, 3A, it would be crazy for my city just to go to the league,” he said. “I told my mom like in five years, I want to be driving to the house in a Rolls-Royce. That’s my plan right now.”
Page is working with a top five of Clemson, LSU, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee, and wants to make his decision sooner than later. He is ranked as the No. 3 defensive tackle and No. 25 overall prospect in the 2021 class per the 247Sports Composite.
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