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Secondary takes another hit: Payton leaves team

A day short of five months ago, we learned that starting strong safety Al Afalava destroyed a city bus shelter with his car and was charged with DUI Hit and Run charges. He'll miss the nationally televised season opener against Stanford.

Now, we learn that free safety Bryan Payton has elected to leave the team.

This is a tough one to figure out, as a NCAA Divison I athlete who has a chance to play a large role in a team's success isn't just going to walk off the practice field. He's gone now, and it's not football related, so that leaves a lot up in the air.

With new linebackers and an overall fast front seven, the Beavers really need leaders in the secondary. The speed of the front seven will bring opportunities for interceptions, and we need quality players back there.

If you remember, Brian Payton was the one who took an interception back 50+ yards from the end zone against John David Booty and USC. He has 73 tackles and 3 interceptions in his 2 year Oregon State career.

We've never really gotten a chance to see Afalava and Payton together, since they both played at strong safety last year. He has six starts in 27 games at Oregon State.

Payton was a player who found himself in hot water both with coaches and academically. He was on Judge Judy. He was flown home from the 2004 Insight Bowl. But he was also the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis Volunteer of the year in 2006. 

“I’ve always liked kids,” Payton once said. “For a class I had to do some hours there my freshman year. Then you build bonds with the kids, and you feel like you have to keep going. You start to hang out with them, and you are a good influence on them.”

He was talking about the Boys and Girls Club, the place where he earned Volunteer of the Year.

So obviously, there's a lot going on inside his helmet. I wish him the best in the future.

Greg Laybourn, the pressure's now on you. Step up.