- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
D'Andre Payne (Washington, D.C./H.D. Woodson) expected a cheering sea of white-wearing fans and chills when he stepped through Penn State's south tunnel Saturday.
He said he wasn't disappointed -- but the crowd still caught him off guard.
When he emerged from the tunnel, he heard a chant of two familiar words: "D'Andre Payne! D'Andre Payne!" some screamed, goading the 2014 cornerback to commit to Penn State.
The ESPN Watch List prospect said he couldn't help but smile. He twice visited Maryland and traveled once to Virginia, but no one ever mentioned his name. No one knew whom he was.
"There were people screaming my name and I was like, man, how do they know me?" Payne said with a laugh. "And after the game, when we were leaving, a couple people asked me for my autograph. I was really surprised by that.
"I was just smiling, shaking a couple of their hands. It was fun, man. It was little kids coming up asking me to sign autographs -- and parents, too. It was great. It was a lot of fun. I had a ball this weekend."
Payne already has more than two dozen scholarship offers, but he constantly hears about the Nittany Lions. He drove up with the parents of PSU cornerback Stephon Morris, and he attends the same high school as 2013 commit Jordan Smith.
"His parents were telling me how you don't get this no place else. I think I heard that a million times yesterday," Payne said, referring to the crowd. "And, Jordan, I see him every day. He tells me that I can come in and play right away. He's in my ear every day all day, but he's not lying with what he's saying."
The 5-foot-9, 169-pound defensive back said he's still trying to keep an open mind. He already holds offers from the likes of Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State -- and he plans to visit as many schools as he can this season.
He'll be in the stands for the Florida State-Florida game on Nov. 24. But his mind was still on Penn State early Sunday afternoon.
"I was just like, I would really want to play in something like this," Payne said. "The crowd was pumped up, the coaches were pumped up. It was just nice. I was just like, 'Wow, I need to be there.' It was crazy."