Auburn for Artis-Payne

Cameron Artis-Payne

Santa Maria (Calif.) Allan Hancock College running back Cameron Artis-Payne discusses his reasons for committing to Auburn moments after announcing his decision...

On Thursday afternoon, Santa Maria (Calif.) Allan Hancock College running back Cameron Artis-Payne announced his decision to commit Auburn, just a few days after visiting campus.

The running back, who also held offers from Utah and Washington, among others, kept his speech short and sweet, pulling out an Auburn hat and giving his first "War Eagle" as a Tiger.

Artis-Payne created a stir during his freshman season with the Bulldogs, running for 1,364 yards and eighteen touchdowns. However, his statistics have jumped in just one year.

In 2012, with one game still left to play, the talented back is already the state leader in both touchdowns (23) and in rushing yards per game, with 204. This season, he's also broken four school records: most touchdowns in a season (23 to date), career touchdowns (41-the previous record was 29), rushing yards in a season (1,838 to date), and rushing yards in a career (currently at 3,202).

Hancock head football coach Kris Dutra is incredibly impressed with his running back and thinks that Artis-Payne will find success within the Tigers' program.

"I think Cameron will do an excellent job at Auburn. There's obviously going to be some speed difference in the game that he will adjust to, but that's what I know about him: he will adjust to anything. He's extremely durable; that's one of the reasons Auburn likes him so much. They see him as an every down player and he's just a rugged, tough guy. He's obviously very talented, too," he said.

Dutra, who has coached Artis-Payne during his entire time at Hancock, can also see an improvement in his game, but is more taken by his noticeable growth off the field.

"Physically, he lost fifteen to twenty pounds from last year, which improved his speed. He's done a lot of work, and worked very hard. We do 5:30 A.M. workouts four days a week that I think helped him tremendously, too.

"However, I've seen him really grow as a person, as well. He was kind of a quiet guy when he first got here, kept to himself, and the more time he spent around us and his teammates, he opened up. We learned about who he was and he became more secure with himself. That's when I really started to see the difference in him," he said.

Though Dutra has put out a number of players into Division-1 football, he sees something special in Artis-Payne.

"I've had a lot of kids go Division-1 out of this program, but never to the SEC. That's like the heaven of football there; it seems like it's where it started. This is a different experience right here for me. I'm used to having talented guys, but there always seems to be something, and that's the nature of junior college sports. You'll have a guy who will have all this ability and he's just not getting it done in the classroom or he's just not really a team guy or something. Cameron is one of the best total products we've had here," he said.

Artis-Payne will join the Tigers in January.

Full FOX Sports NEXT one-on-one post-ceremony interview below...

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