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November 4, 2010Redshirt freshman receiver Quintin Payton's numbers do not jump off the page. He has three catches this year for 28 yards, including a seven-yard reception from redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson Thursday night against Florida State on a third and six play.
But the fact that Payton is even averaging 8.8 plays a game since returning from a preseason dislocated finger injury on his left hand is impressive.
NC State has a veteran receiving corps that includes six juniors or seniors who have caught a touchdown pass during their time in Raleigh, and five of those wide outs had double-digit reception totals in 2009.
Rookie wide outs like Payton were going to have to work hard to even see the field this fall. It's no surprise that Payton's playing time has boosted his confidence.
"Whenever coach calls my number I am ready to go in," Payton said. "This does wonders for me as far as getting experience, getting plays under my belt. I just try to make the most of it.
"It makes me feel good that to know that they have confidence in me to let me play. I think this is a big step toward next year, because next year it will be just me and a few others since all the seniors are gone. This is basically our team then."
Payton only got into the game five times against the Noles, but he made a crucial catch on the first drive of the game that helped lead to a touchdown.
"If he throws it to me I feel obligated to catch it," Payton said. "Of course I felt good about it, being that it was Thursday night, big game. I feel good that he's throwing to me. That means he's counting on me."
Payton admits that he became a bit worried when he dislocated a finger after a pass tipped off the top of it. He said that he got into a little slump since the injury occurred so close to the season, but he feels like he quickly regained his form when he returned.
The 6-foot-4, 203-pounder knows he has ideal size for a receiver, and he is hoping the playing time he has earned this year will help him round out his game.
"With time, things will come," Payton said. "Route running will come, speed will be better and a little more size."
Saturday at Clemson should be a special game for Payton. He attended high school down the road at T.L. Hanna in Anderson, S.C., and he has played against several current Tigers players. He has also taken in a few games at Clemson.
"It's too many to count," Payton admitted. "It's not terribly a lot. Probably throughout high school I was there at least once a year. Not so much a fan, just to see the environment. I cheered for both Clemson and South Carolina. I supported the home state teams.
"A lot of friends back home want tickets [for Saturday]. I've been able to get quite a few. I think I am going to have everybody covered."
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