Clemson set its sights on DT Payton Page (6-4 335) of Greensboro, NC early in the recruiting process, basically passing on every other defensive tackle available. That dedication paid off Tuesday night when Page announced a commitment to the Tigers over Tennessee and North Carolina. Page is the only interior defensive linemen Clemson plans to take in the class. The Tigers have two defensive ends committed and now stand at 14 total commitments.
“I called Coach (Todd) Bates and he was kind of hyped. I called Coach (Dabo) Swinney about a week ago and told him,” Page said. “He knew then and he was telling me then that it was crazy. But then he asked if I was ready to be all-in, though, and I said yes, of course.”
And he did so with the approval of his parents.
“They knew a couple of months ago that Clemson was where I would go,” Page said. “My dad didn’t really say a lot about it. But education is very important to me and I wanted to go to a place where I could be successful. My mother is a teacher and she really loves that place. I know I will get a good education there. My mom was really impressed by everything she saw.”
Another thing Page was looking for was a high level of comfort in the school he chose. He’s certain he found that in Clemson based off his visits there.
“The hospitality. They just treat me differently from other schools because schools will usually say one thing and they don’t mean it. But I trust Clemson in what they are saying,” Page said. “You are going to have to work for your starting position. That is what they told me. That is the most real thing I’ve heard yet. Talking to some other schools, they tell me that I have a starting position right out of the gate. I know that is a lie. I know there is another dude that y’all have over there that knows the plays and is going to be more qualified at that position before I get there. And then y’all are not going to let me work for it? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Page developed a strong relationship with Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and defensive tackles coach Todd Bates, and he said he looks forward to learning from them and taking his game to a higher level.
“Coach Bates and Coach Venables are cool dudes, but I can tell when you hit that field they mean business,” Page said. “The message I got from them both was really what everyone that I met has said, I won’t just leave Clemson a better football player but everything they are going to teach me will help me to be a better man. Because If I am fortunate to make it to the pros, what will 30 (years) look like after the pros?”
Page is rated as a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked as the #7 defensive tackle in the country and the #4 prospect in North Carolina. He might not get the chance to improve those numbers this fall. He said if North Carolina moves the season to the spring, he will go ahead and graduate as planned in December and enroll at Clemson in January.
Page had 71 tackles with 26 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. For his three seasons of high school ball, he has compiled 191 tackles, 55 tackles for loss and 13 sacks according to MaxPreps stats.
Watch Page make his announcement (WFMY TV)