Not many high school football teams rely upon freshmen to lead an offense, but Jonathan Paylor isn’t like most high school football players.
Paylor, now a sophomore at Hugh M. Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina, made the varsity team at Cummings last season and it didn’t take long to make an impact. After a strong debut with over 100 yards of total offense, he exploded in his second career game.
In an 88-74 shootout over Ben L. Smith High School, Paylor ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns and caught six passes for 118 yards and four more touchdowns. In seven games as a freshman, he rushed for 438 yards on 60 attempts, caught 36 passes for 851 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.
His freshman exploits got the attention of quite a few major Division I schools, including West Virginia. The Mountaineers offered Paylor, with WVU director of recruiting Scott Gasper serving as his main point of contact.
After a great talk w/ coach @SGasperWVU I am blessed to announce my scholarship offer from West Virginia University #HailWV #TrustTheClimb @WVUFBRecruiting @NCPreps @247Sports @Rivals @willbradleysp @SWiltfong247 @C_Perdue4 @Coach_JVinson @BTownBulls7v7 @CavsFB1 @adamgorney pic.twitter.com/6gN6v3rgyj
— jonathan paylor (@jonathan_paylor) September 23, 2021
That conversation was great,” Paylor told WVSN. “We talked about the school and the academics, and it was really exciting to hear that from a great program like that.
While Paylor said he hasn’t been in conversation with WVU much so far, the conversations he has had have been fantastic.
With offers from Duke, Elon, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and WVU, his recruitment race is already crowded.
Paylor admitted that he doesn’t know much about WVU at this point, but he’s beginning to learn more. There isn’t a trip to Morgantown planned right now, but he said he does want to visit in the future.
The extent of his knowledge about WVU at this point is remembering when former all-purpose threat Tavon Austin attended the school. Perhaps known as the Tavon Austin of Cummings, he said he’s a little bit of himself in Austin’s game, but he still wishes he could be as good.
In Paylor’s sophomore season so far, he’s rushed for 260 yards on just 32 attempts and caught 20 passes for 413 yards. His 168.3 all-purpose yards per game are just a tick off his totals from his freshman season.
Aside from his play on the field, Paylor said his work ethic and dedication to perfecting his craft will help him stand out from other recruits in the class.
It’s not like he has much standing out to do either, ranking as the eighth recruit in the early 2024 class, according to 247Sports. Additionally, he’s classified as the top-ranked athlete and the top-ranked recruit from North Carolina.
The race for Paylor’s signature will be hotly contested, and WVU has a foot in the door, but it’ll be up to the coaching staff to build a stronger bond with him.
It’s been going good,” Paylor said of his recruiting process. “I don’t know [where WVU stands] yet. I’ll see if they show me some love.”