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Virginia Tech receiver Jaden Payoute ends collegiate career by taking medical disqualification | College

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mike.niziolek@roanoke.com

BLACKSBURG—Virginia Tech receiver Jaden Payoute spent nearly his entire collegiate career battling aliments of one kind of another.

The first few months he was on campus as an early enrollee out of the 2019 class he worked with the training staff to get severe allergies under control. Former Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen said the allergies left Payoute “hardly able to function” on some days.

Payoute made it past that initial setback, but a series of injuries limited him to only seven games the last two years.

It all took a toll on the young receiver who announced on Tuesday he was taking a medical disqualification and ending his football career. The medical disqualification allows Payoute to keep his scholarship and not count against the Hokies’ 85-player scholarship limit going forward.

He’s the first scholarship player to take a medical disqualification since defensive tackle Jaden Cunningham.

Payoute, who was the fourth highest ranked recruit former coach Justin Fuente signed, announced his decision on social media.

“After lengthy conversations with my family and coaches, as well as many hours of prayer, I have made the difficult decision to take a medical disqualification and conclude my football career at Virginia Tech,” Payoute said. “I will be forever grateful to Coach Fuente and his staff for recruiting me and giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing for the Hokies.”

“The last 18 months have been exceedingly difficult for me and I believe the best thing for my long-term mental and physical health is to walk away from the game. I appreciate Coach Pry, Coach Mines, my teammates and so many other individuals at Virginia Tech for supporting me in this decision.”

It wasn’t the career Payoute envisioned as one of the state’s top prospects in 2019 coming out of Lloyd C. Bird.

According to 247 Sports composite rankings, Payoute ranked No. 162 nationally in the 2019 signing class (No. 4 in Virginia) as a four-star prospect. He had 17 scholarship offers including ones from power five schools like Boston College, Illinois and Tennessee.

Payoute played all over the field at Lloyd C. Bird, and was the team’s starting quarterback as a senior. He was a multi-sport standout who earned a state title in the Class 5 100-meters.

He had less than 10 career catches in high school—the offense averaged 500 carries a year during his career—but his 4.3 speed and 6-foot-1 frame had plenty of teams competing to land him.

“I feel like I was pretty underrated,” Payoute said, in an interview with The Roanoke Times before signing with Tech. “Not really getting the chance to showcase my talent hurt. I had to show them what I can do at camps and stuff is where I really proved myself.”

Payoute maintained his redshirt playing in four games as a true freshman in 2019.

The previous coaching staff was encouraged with how he performed that year—he enrolled early coming out of high school—and they identified him as one of the players to watch going into fall camp in 2020 after Tech lost four players to the transfer portal at the position.

Things didn’t quite go to plan.

He suffered what turned out to be a season-ending ankle injury just two weeks before the season-opener, and the injury would keep him sidelined for nearly a year since he ended up having a follow-up procedure that spring.

“It was a hard thing for everybody just because he’s worked so hard to continue to improve,” then coach Justin Fuente said, at the time. “I think he’s a great example of a guy that didn’t have success as soon as he stepped on campus but didn’t let that deter him.”

The coaching staff hoped he would be able to get back on track in 2021, but a hamstring injury early in fall camp set the stage for another challenging season. He made what turned out to be his first and only career catch in the Pinstripe Bowl against Maryland.

Payoute’s 42-yard grab from Connor Blumrick was one of the few bright spots in the 54-10 loss.





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