Despite the fact he was an outstanding football player and a great athlete, Payton did not receive any offers from SEC schools. Payton would find offers from other schools instead of from those SEC schools which looked for talent in his area.
He did commit to Kansas State University at first but reversed field and went on to get his education and play football at Jackson State University. Incidentally, it was also the same school that his brother Eddie went to and played at as well. This probably swayed Payton (to go to Jackson State) in a big way.
Jackson State was a little bit of a “football factory” in its own right. Some future pros came out of the smaller school including Jackie Slater, Jerome Barkum and Robert Brazile. Of course, Payton would end up being the best and most well-recognized of all of them.
While in college, Payton had more than 3,500 yards on the ground and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. He scored 65 touchdowns breaking a record. He was one of the best running backs in all of college football.
His best collegiate game came in Payton’s sophomore season. Jackson State was playing Lane College and in that game Payton scored seven touchdowns along with several two point conversions. Altogether, he had a total of 46 points. His team beat Lane 72-0.
Payton earned several accolades while he was in college including All-American and Player of the Year honors.
You can’t have a story about Payton without knowing where his ever popular nickname “sweetness” came from. It stuck with him in college and it’s been said that the nickname essentially had three sources. His athletic ability on the field is one source for the nickname. His personality (being so kind) is another reason he earned the nickname it is said. The final suggestion on where he got his nickname comes from it being a way to describe his running style.