Da’Ron (or Daron) Payne is considered a rare behemoth, with not only space-eating power but the strength to go along with it. He weighs in at 6’3″, 311, and bench presses easily over 450 pounds. Da’Ron also commands the line and teams had a hard time running on him- even when using a double team. With other great talent on the line at Alabama, it took sometime for Payne to break into the starting lineup. In 2017 he finished with 53 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. He flew up the draft boards with his solid combine results. This allowed Da’Ron to be selected 13th by the Washington Redskins.
Turning heads in mini-camp, Daron will slide into the Redskins alignment at defensive tackle and may even play a bit of nose. A nagging ankle injury during camp though limited his reps and he didn’t really play much during the preseason. Daron had an impressive debut in the NFL. Shifting from defensive tackle to nose depending on the alignment, Payne started all 16 games for Washington, and posted 56 combined tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 pass deflections and a forced fumble.
Here’s an interesting card from one of those blaster boxes of Panini I’ve become so loathe of recent. If I told you 4 years ago, Kenny Hill would be on a TCU card and not be enshrined alongside Johnny Manziel as a one of the Texas A&M great quarterbacks, you would think I was mad- but here we are.
Backing up for Manziel for just one year in 2014, Kenny was handed the keys to the Aggies fortunes a year later. He would not disappoint in his first start- breaking Manziel’s single game school passing record (511 yards), and Jerrod Johnson’s single game school record (44 completions), against then #9 South Carolina. Almost immediately sensing an opportunity Hill trademarked his moniker ‘The Trill’ for promotional purposes- but after warming up against what turned out to be mid-tier talent, Hill’s number began to tail off against tougher opponents. After losing 3 straight games, he’d be benched- and then suspended for 2 games. Was the pressure too much at AtM or was the school just not patient enough? Who really knows? Whatever the circumstances, Kenny transferred to TCU in 2016. On the season it should be noted he threw 23 TDs to just 8 interceptions and completed 66.7% of his passes.
After a subpar 2016, Kenny again lit up the scoreboard, bringing his signature style of football to the Horned Frogs posting almost identical numbers to his year as starter at AtM. In his final game he’d beat the Stanford Cardinal 39-37 in the Valero Bowl, as TCU finished ranked 9th in the nation.
Kennny was unselected in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’d sign with the Oakland Raiders, but was quickly cut. Later he’d be picked up by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, but is rumored to be high on the wishlist of the upstart AAF San Antonio franchise.
Fred Warner played in college for Brigham Young at linebacker where he started from 2015 to 2017 for the Cougars. In his Sophomore campaign of 2015, he had 67 tackles, 4 sacks, and 11.5 tackles for loss. He’d earn All-Independent Honors the following year when he posted 86 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions. His 2017 was equally impressive, when he had 87 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and an interception.
Fred was taken in the 3rd round by the San Fransisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft. A rangy talent, Warner has the motor and speed to be moved around the field into a hybrid linebacker safety role, but the ‘9ers seem content to have him man the middle linebacker position. Flying under the radar, Warner had an outstanding rookie season in 2018, finishing with 124 combined tackles, 6 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.
This is a great card from Panini here. The colors are really spot on and it looks exciting! Unfortunately the autograph completely takes away from the card in this case. While I can make out the F—W— well sorta… it was pointed out to me that it looked like Fred had a stroke while signing this card. Just a terrible autograph.
Celebrating the game, the players, the cards, and the autographs for over 25 years.