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Okmulgee’s Durante Payne – Athlete Spotlight – Presented By Mabrey Bank

“I was told I’d never make it because I’m too short. Well, I’m still too short. It doesn’t matter what your height is, it’s what’s in your heart.”

That quote from Hall of Fame baseball player Kirby Puckett can also be applied to Okmulgee High School senior and football lineman Durante Payne.

“Durante is usually the shortest kid on the field, however, he wins most of the battles,” says his coach, Brent Scott. “He’s a four-year starter and a team captain and he never misses a practice or summer workout.”

Rather than worry about playing against taller guys all the time, Payne says that sometimes that works to his advantage.

“I feel like I’m underestimated all the time by guys if they’ve just watched me on tape or something, but I believe the lower man always wins because I can get more leverage being shorter and because I’m one of the strongest guys on the team. A lot of times on the defensive line I have to play against guys with longer arms which makes it hard to get around them, so I just try to use my strength and leverage to get them out of the way,” said Durante.

Growing up he had lot of role model examples to follow in football.

“There are a lot of my family that has played football. I grew up watching my two older brothers and some cousins play and so they kind of set the example for me to follow.”

In addition to football, Durante is also into powerlifting and is now bench pressing around 300 pounds and hopes to make a run to state this year when that competition comes around. As a senior, Durante is part of the leadership group on the football team.

“I’m not a vocal leader, I lead more by example. I always want to show up on time, be an example in the weight room and do the right thing to set an example of how to do things right not just on the football field but in the classroom too.”

Part of being a team captain and a leader is having good character.

“Durante works hard at everything he does and has great character,” said coach Scott and Payne himself takes pride on that aspect of his life. “To me good character is being an honest, hardworking person, non-judgmental and a leader by example.”

Durante Payne says he’ll probably look at joining the national guard after high school and has words of advice for his underclassmen.

“Size doesn’t matter, and the weight room pays off. If you work hard, good things will come to you.”

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