Texas Tech outside linebacker Chris Payne, who missed the 2013 season while academically ineligible, is rejoining the team, the Avalanche-Journal learned. Wednesday was the first day of spring-semester classes at Tech, and Payne was on campus.
He is expected to be on the team as a walk-on.
Payne’s return gives the Red Raiders another option at outside linebacker. During spring practice last year, co-offensive coordinator Mike Smith raved about Payne’s play, and he went into the summer as the top backup to Raider outside linebacker Terrance Bullitt.
Bullitt was a senior in 2013, so that starting spot is now up for grabs. After Payne fell by the wayside, Austin Stewart took over as Bullitt’s backup and was productive. He was credited with 39 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and three pass breakups.
Stewart did not travel to the Holiday Bowl for what Tech termed a coach’s decision.
Payne, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior from Columbia, S.C., arrived at Tech two years ago from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and played in nine games in 2012.