While many of the top FBS players continue to ponder their futures, UCLA wide receiver Jordan Payton declared to reporters after Saturday’s practice “I’m coming back.” This comes as great news to Bruins fans, who won’t have to worry about replacing their top offensive threat. Furthermore, Payton claimed that leaving for the NFL wasn’t even a part of his thought process. In a very talented wide receiver draft class, the decision seems very wise, as NFL draft experts didn’t project Payton to be selected in the first few rounds.
“There were reports saying that I was leaving or something, but I’m coming back. Didn’t really even think about leaving, to be honest with you,” Payton clarified to reporters.
Throughout the 2014 season, Payton leads the Bruins with 63 receptions for 896 yards and seven touchdowns, but his importance to the UCLA offense runs much more deep. Head coach Jim Mora will already have to deal with the loss of quarterback Brett Hundley and now whichever quarterback follows in his footsteps will have an elite weapon at his disposal. With Hundley at the helm, Payton established himself as the team’s go-to receiver, and Bruins fans hope he can continue on that trajectory next fall after Hundley is gone.
Payton proved to PAC-12 opponents he was among the conference’s premier wide outs having two exceptionally dominant games against Arizona State and Arizona catching for 154 and 109 yards respectively to go along with three touchdowns. Still, if Payton hopes to improve his draft stock, there are flaws in his game that will need improvement entering his senior season.
UCLA’s 2014 campaign draws to a close against the Kansas State Wildcats in the Valero Alamo Bowl on January 2.
*Section Photo credit to Ronald Martinez, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports