Payne named top defensive player

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Donald Payne, a Fayetteville resident and graduate of Landmark Christian School, has been named the Pioneer Football League’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore defensive back for Stetson University.

He received the honor by a vote of the league’s coaches.

Payne garnered the top defensive award just one year after being named the league’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, making him the first to accomplish that feat since freshman honors were created in 2006.

He set a new league record with an FCS-best 185 tackles in the regular season, including a whopping 30 tackles in one game Nov. 1 against Campbell. In two other games he recorded 20 or more tackles.

A finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, Payne racked up 19 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four interceptions, eight pass breakups, six QB hurries, two fumbles forced and two fumbles recovered this season.

Stetson finished with a 5-7 record and was 3-5 in conference games. The DeLand, Fla., school’s schedule included Drake, Morehead State, Davidson, Jacksonville, San Diego, Butler, Birmingham-Southern and Mercer, among others.

The athletic program’s web site can be found at www.gohatters.com.