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Top 20 Performances for 2015 Cincinnati Football: No. 16 Leviticus Payne

Leviticus Payne didn't necessarily stuff the stat sheet, but was a playmaker on the Cincinnati defense all season long.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Leviticus Payne is a bit small physically, but he is a versatile playmaker. He is officially listed as a cornerback, but also can play linebacker. Although he did not record an interception or a sack this year, he was a disruptive force, recording 36 tackles, with 3.5 of those tackles for a loss. He also was responsible for a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

Payne showed flashes of potential last year, recording a sack, interception, and two fumble recoveries. At the beginning of the 2015 season, what he showed the previous season excited coaches, who felt that he was quick enough to cover receivers and physical enough to defend the run.

Early in the season against Temple, the Bearcats were down 34-26 against the Owls, when late in the fourth, Payne recovered a fumble forced by teammate Eric Wilson. It had the potential of giving the Bearcats a second chance to win the game, but an interception by Gunner Kiel failed to give them any points resulting from the turnover.

Payne made another play early in the game against Memphis, forcing a fumble on the second play of the game. Coincidentally, it was Eric Wilson who made the recovery. Although the Bearcats eventually lost the game, they were able to score points off the turnover, thanks to a four-yard touchdown run by Kiel.

Payne is known for being a hard-hitter, as well. He made a vicious tackle on Miami running back Joseph Yearby early in the year, which helped contribute to a 34-23 victory.

Payne has certainly shown himself to be a playmaker during his time with the Bearcats, and though he will be moving onto a potential professional career, he showed flashes of playing at an NFL level while in Cincinnati, and a solid 2015 year continued to show that he can be a solid role player for an NFL team.