Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics (Photo From 2019)
The makeup of an outstanding wide receiver has the ability to attack defenses with their speed and athleticism while also being willing and ready to learn and refine his craft.
Jaden Payoute checks those boxes and Justin Fuente has taken notice.
“I start to see Jaden Payoute out there,” said Fuente. “I get really excited about the progress that he’s made from just trying to learn, but he’s working incredibly hard and he’s got talent and grown by leaps and bounds without the benefit of a spring practice.”
The four-star recruit has had a little bit of a learning curve in his arrival at Virginia Tech as he is getting adjusted to a position he lacks experience with from his high school playing days.
L.C. Bird High School’s offense favors the running game as 500+ of their plays were on the ground while the team did not even record 100 passes on the season.
Payoute was able to show off his arm as he did attempt forty passes and completed half of them for 397 yards; but mostly it was his speed that set him apart from the opposition, averaging 8.1 yards per carry in his senior season.
But Payoute did work on both sides of the ball in where he also had a role on the defense playing cornerback in his senior season at L.C. Bird.
Listed as an athlete, Payoute also produced quite the track star resumé; posting a 10.6 second mark on the hundred meter dash and an impressive long jump when he competed back in high school.
Even with all of that athletic ability, it took a while for Payoute to actually climb onto the radar of Power 5 college football programs.
However, that changed in the summer of 2018 at a Virginia Tech satellite camp in Richmond.
Payoute showed off his speed and athletic ability that made Virginia Tech's coaches instant believers in his potential, leading them to extending him an offer. Days later, the future four-star recruit would visit Blacksburg and commit to the Hokies, becoming a signature piece in their strong 2019 class.
Of course, the next step once Payoute arrived was becoming a more refined receiver knowing that his speed could make him a productive player, but a refined game could make him a star.
While his impressive speed is still just as impressive, he has started to become a more well-rounded athlete and wide receiver which has Justin Fuente excited.
“That’s what gets some young players, they can run fast and they can draw whether they are supposed to do it on the board,” said Fuente. “But playing fast and doing what they are supposed to do and that’s starting to come around for Jaden which is pretty exciting.”
His size and strength specifically has seen a steady improvement since his arrival to Blacksburg as he gained nearly 20 pounds since his arrival with the 2019 class, a testament to Payoute's work ethic and Ben Hilgart's strength program.
“His testing numbers in terms of his lifting have skyrocketed,” said Fuente. “He’s going to be a really strong wide receiver with great explosiveness.”
Payoute is also learning the position well and continuing to take everything in stride especially for someone who didn't spend any time at wide receiver in high school.
"There’s an element of learning how to play wide receiver that he hadn’t really ever done," Fuente said. "He played cornerback his senior year of high school and he doesn’t have it all figured out, but he’s made huge strides in that direction."
However, the growth of Jaden Payoute has also provided a major boost that has Justin Fuente feeling confident in what Tech has at wide receiver this season.
“I feel pretty good about that group when they are up and healthy and what we can do there."