Virginia Tech's transfer portal focus has primarily shifted to the defensive side of the football with the Hokies showing interest in numerous intriguing transfers including Nebraska OLB/DE Pheldarius Payne.
Payne told us that since entering the transfer portal yesterday, he has received interest from Virginia Tech, Indiana, Duke, Marshall, and Old Dominion.
Payne, give his 6'3'' and 260-pound frame, would likely slot in as a defensive end if he were to choose Virginia Tech. It's not a surprise to see the Hokies looking at defensive end with Amare Barno off to the NFL, and Cole Nelson and Mattheus Carroll not being guarantees to be ready to be starting DEs in the ACC opposite TyJuan Garbutt.
Pheldarius Payne played regularly in the rotation for Nebraska each of the past two seasons after transferring from JUCO powerhouse Lackawanna CC. During his two seasons at Nebraska, Payne had 40 tackles including 4.5 for loss with 3 sacks over the course of 22 games, solid stats for a player who wasn't a starter at Nebraska.
One thing that could help the Hokies is the fact that Payne is a 757 native from Suffolk, VA who played his high school football at Nansemond River. That could make Tech the favorite given the home state appeal while ODU being in the backyard could be a sleeper and Duke also profiles as a contender with the Blue Devils not being far from home and having one of the most connected CFB coaches to the 757 in the country, Zohn Burden, on their staff.
Payne played OLB for Nebraska though his size (6'3'' and 260 pounds) and the fact that he played in a 3-4 defense in Lincoln likely mean he would be making the move to defensive end if he transferred to Tech. While Payne may not be the biggest name, he's shown that he can be a productive player at the Power 5 and seems to have the size and potential to make the jump to Power 5 starters.
Payne would definitely face plenty of competition from Jaylen Griffin, Eli Adams, Cole Nelson, and Mattheus Carroll; but it would be hard to not consider Payne the clear favorite to start at DE opposite TyJuan Garbutt if he were to end up in Blacksburg.
As Virginia Tech shifts their transfer portal focus to the defensive side of the ball, Nebraska's Pheldarius Payne has emerged as a player to watch due to his productivity and promise in Lincoln plus his ties to the Commonwealth.