Elite DT discusses his decision to join Tigers
Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley defensive tackle Payton Page says his commitment decision “came down to the wire” and he didn’t make a final call on his college choice until about two days ago.
On Tuesday evening, the top-30 national prospect let the world know where he will continue his academic and athletic career, announcing his commitment to Clemson over finalists North Carolina and Tennessee during a ceremony at a local training facility.
According to Page, his decision ultimately came down to the Tigers and in-state Tar Heels, and his comfort level at Clemson was a deciding factor.
“I really felt comfortable at Clemson, the most comfortable I ever felt,” he said during a question-and-answer session with The Clemson Insider and other reporters on hand for his ceremony. “I felt way more comfortable at Clemson than UNC.”
After receiving an offer from the Tigers last summer, Page (6-4, 335) visited Clemson for a pair of games in the fall and returned to campus for the program’s elite junior day event in January.
Defensive tackles coach Todd Bates headed Page’s recruitment for the Tigers and did a great job of building a strong bond with him throughout the process.
“Coach Bates is like another father to me,” Page said. “That’s how close we are.”
Page was the only defensive tackle the Tigers legitimately offered and pursued in this cycle, and the fact they locked in on him as their lone target at his position meant a lot to him.
“It kind of makes me feel kind of special because UNC and Tennessee had offered about 12 other defensive tackles,” Page said. “So, yeah, it shows a lot.”
Page still finds it surreal and can hardly believe he is committed to play for a college football power in Clemson that has won two of the last four national championships.
“It’s really a good honor to me, and sometimes I really don’t think I’m in this position sometimes and I still think it’s a dream,” he said.
Now that he has ended his recruitment, Page feels a ton of pressure has been lifted off his shoulders as the stress of the process had been mounting for him in the weeks and months leading up to his commitment.
“I’m relieved. I’m relieved, bro,” he said with a big smile.
All In with the Tigers, Page is already planning to help his future school recruit another top defensive tackle from Greensboro in the next cycle: class of 2022 five-star Travis Shaw.
“I’m going to push him hard,” Page said.
Page is ranked by Rivals as the No. 1 prospect from North Carolina, No. 2 defensive tackle nationally and No. 30 overall prospect in the 2021 class. As a junior last season, he was credited with 71 total tackles, including 26 for loss and three sacks, in 13 games.
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