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As one of several camps he has attended, Christian Payne’s favorite was the Nick Saban Football Camp held on the campus of the University of Alabama. One of the perks of the camp was to meet Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the chance to pose for a picture at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Photo by Kent Gidley

Christian Payne On Whirlwind Summer Of Football- Attending Elite Camps

HARVEST- For Christian Payne, a seventh grader at Sparkman Middle School in Harvest, the summer of 2022 is one he’ll never forget and could easily change his life forever. The rising seventh grader has been and is expected to continue participating in skills summer football camps including two of the biggest held east of the Mississippi River.

The 12-year old recently went through extensive spring workouts in his attempt to make the Sparkman Middle School football team and is expected to play defensive end and, on occasions, tight end on offense. During the team’s recent scrimmages he also took his position at center on offense. No matter where the talented 5-foot-8, 128-pound athlete lines up in helmet and pads, he has quickly established himself as a future star in high school football.

“I love the game and have fun,” said Christian.

The son of Calvin and Janelle Payne, Christian began his incredible journey through off-season skills camps in Montgomery on May 7. Twenty-one days later he was near home as a combine camp at nearby Sparkman High. On June 6, he attended the highly anticipated Nick Saban Camp in Tuscaloosa.

“That’s been the best camp I’ve been to as we were at Alabama’s practice facility where three fields were used for the extensive stretching segments in both morning and afternoon sessions,” said Christian. “We all had the chance to go to nearby Bryant-Denny Stadium where we got to meet Coach Saban and have our picture taken with him.”

In the T-Town camp, Christian went through a battery of skills drills and was assessed by many expert coaches. He was clocked at 5.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, had a 19-inch vertical jump and recorded a 5-foot, 10-inch mark in the standing long jump. His numbers were exceptional and gave him the much-needed confidence into two of the most elite camps of the summer.

“I’m excited as I feel like I’m somebody and can hold my own against competition,” said Christian, as he preps daily for the upcoming camps.

The last week of June Christian will attend the U.S.A. National Team Middle School Training Camp held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. He also received a special invitation to America’s largest football showcase held in Naples, Fla. The Top Gun Showcase is set for July 8-10 at the Paradise Coast Sports Complex.

At the Top Gun Showcase, Christian and the remaining participants from all over the country have an excellent chance to showcase their individual skills in the end of summer event. The Showcase can lead to numerous additional events including an invite to the All-American Bowl, 247 Sports Profile and Recap report, player data sent to 64 power 5 schools and gear from an array of sponsors.

Hitting closer to home and family, Christian is also scheduled to attend the July 7 Daron Payne Football Camp in Birmingham. Daron Payne is a cousin of Christian’s, a former defensive tackle from Alabama and now plays for the NFL’s Washington Commander.

“I want to be like my cousin,” expressed Christian who has played numerous sports before settling in with football.

By his coaches, Christian is known as an overall athlete, sort of a “Swiss army knife,” who can do many things with his natural abilities. Those skills have been enriched through physical and mental workouts lasting hours. Twice-a-week Christian heads over to Body Creation Inc. (BCI) Sports Performance and Fitness in Madison. The location is owned and operated by Andy McCloy who has trained numerous collegiate and professional athletes through the many years in Madison. Christian began training with McCloy in 2021 after Christian was invited to play in the Battlefield All-Star Game in Atlanta, Ga.

Calvin Payne, who himself was a multi-sport athlete including a scholarship recipient to play baseball, makes sure Christian remains active with friends as football can consume precious time, which needs to be set aside for a 12-year old to enjoy his time with other activities.

“I coached him in youth leagues prior to moving to Harvest and he’s buying into the process of what I and his current coaches are teaching him,” said Calvin. “He’s not the biggest, but has the heart of a lion. He continues to the end of every play.”

Christian is used to success. His team won the league championship in his first year of youth football. Upon to moving to the area he played for both Madison and Monrovia youth leagues. His 10-under team won the championship. This past year, his 12-under team finished second.

Attending elite camps, high profile showcases or just regular school practices, Christian gives 100-percent. He has a future in football and he knows that fact. “I can do anything I put my mind to,” added Christian. “I want people to remember me as tough, but kind. A hard worker. Charming. My goal is to get better every day.”

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