- Applied Learning & Development: Youth & Community
Payton currently holds a 2.93 GPA and was on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll from 2010-2012. A 2012 Academic All-Big 12 second team selection, he is majoring in Applied Learning & Development: Youth & Community Studies, and hopes to use his education to go into coaching following his baseball career.
Payton had the opportunity to turn professional in baseball following his junior year when he was selected in the 16th round of the MLB Draft. The Chicago native, however, chose to return to school because he felt responsible to help return Texas to national prominence after two down years, and he wanted to earn his degree. One of four current student-athletes to play on UTs last College World Series team in 2011, Payton has served as a leader on a team with 13 newcomers and four freshman starters. Payton’s tireless work ethic and willingness to lead by example has rubbed off on his teammates.
As active as Payton has been on the field in his Texas career - starting 180 games so far - he has been almost equally as busy in the community. Payton has been especially active with youth, volunteering regularly at Austin area elementary schools where he has helped children with their homework and assisted with school carnival fundraisers. He has also volunteered with Marathon Kids, helping children develop a love and habit for fitness; at the Peace Festival, speaking to students about the negative impacts of bullying; at Longhorn Halloween, participating in booth activities and signing autographs for attendees; and at the Neighborhood Longhorns Banquet, a scholarship banquet recognizing local children for academic achievements. When he is back home in Chicago, Payton has also participated as an instructor in The Sparks Special Needs Baseball Clinic and Game.
A unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection after finishing 12th nationally with a .393 batting average in 2013, Payton has had a torrid start to his senior campaign. In leading Texas to a 10-3 start, Payton is batting .458 with a .688 slugging percentage and .559 on-base percentage. He has been a model of consistency, reaching base in 52 straight games dating back to last year. A career .329 hitter, Payton has been a stalwart in the outfield for Texas, starting 65 games as a freshman in 2011, 52 in 2012 when he hit .322, and 50 in 2013 when he hit .393. With 17 career triples, he is just three shy of tying the school and Big 12 record. He has twice received All-Big 12 honors, receiving a second team nod in 2012 in addition to his first team honors in 2013. He was also named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2011 when he helped guide Texas to the College World Series. With his .393 average as a junior, Payton is one of just two Longhorns in the past 25 years to hit .390 or better in a season.