College of the Redwoods

On the move again, Payne to play for Eastern Oregon  

Submitted photos – Iziaah Payne played at Iowa Wesleyan last season before the university closed its doors this spring.

By Ray Hamill — It’s been a long and winding road for one member of the 2017 Fortuna state championship football team, but he believes he’s a better person because of it.

Since graduating Fortuna in 2019, Iziaah Payne has been a part of three different college programs and this summer he will join a fourth as he continues his dream of playing college football.

At every step of his journey, however, he has been forced to move on through no reason of his own.

He played for College of the Redwoods right out of high school, before the Corsairs suspended their program for two years.

He then followed CR assistant coach Esteban Avila to Yuba College for a year.

After a second season at the JC level, Payne was recruited to play for NAIA Iowa Wesleyan, but that university closed its doors this year, forcing the defensive lineman to relocate once again.

This fall, Payne will play for Eastern Oregon, another NAIA program that has offered him a full ride, and he’s excited about the opportunity.

“It’s close to home and I’ve got a lot of family in the area,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “It’s a lot closer than 31 hours (to Iowa Wesleyan).”

All of the moving, however, has benefited the former Husky.

“For sure,” he said. “You’ve got to explore the world. There’s so much out there.”

The talented defensive lineman, who describes himself as a hybrid of a tackle and end, knew quickly that Eastern Oregon was a good fit for him after visiting the campus and meeting the coaches.

“The coaches are super cool people, we’re always face timing,” he said. “I got a good vibe about it.”

Payne was a starter on the 2017 Fortuna state championship team, playing on both lines for the history-making Huskies, and obviously it was a season he will always cherish.

The 2017 Fortuna Huskies won a state championship.

But that’s not all he remembers from that incredible campaign, and he believes his time playing for Huskies helped prepare him for the leap to the college game.

“The coaches, man,” he said. “Coach (Mike) Benbow, coach (Clint) Duey, they’re all great people. It was just a family atmosphere there. It was awesome. I miss playing with them. It was always a good time.”

Those coaches, among others, have influenced Payne more than they might realize.

Because of COVID, he still has two years of eligibility remaining, and while he says he is looking forward to the new challenge, he already has his eyes on the future.

“My main goal is to get that degree, and figure out what I’ll do from there,” said Payne, who will major in Exercise Science and minor in Psychology. “I had a lot of great coaches and it makes me want to coach some day.”

The Eastern Oregon Mountaineers were 2-9 last season.

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