CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves: Is Brandon Payer the Next NFL Prospect?

The CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves are currently ranked 16th in the country in NCAA Division II Football. They had a 6 place jump after they upset the number one ranked Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday. The ThunderWolves are now 3-1. They are being led by one of the most powerful defenses in DII. When playing well this defense can play with some of the best teams at the D1 level. That defense is led by ILB Brandon Payer.

Payer is one of the best LB in all of college football. He is currently tied for 14th in the country in Division II with 46 tackles. He averages 11.5 tackles per game. Payer is the heart and soul of the Pack defense that ranks 12th in the country.


Brandon Payer came to CSU-Pueblo in 2014. That year he red-shirted as a freshman. Nonetheless, that is when it all began for the 6’4” senior out of Pine, CO.

In 2015, as a redshirt freshman, Payer played in 14 games for the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves. He started seven of those games. He finished fifth on the team in tackles with 64. That was also good enough for second in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).

2016 saw a vast improvement in Brandon Payer. He led the Pack in tackles with 103 total tackles. That total was good enough for second in the RMAC. He was only the fourth player in the school, since 2008, to break 100 tackles for a single season. Also, his outstanding season saw him finish ranked 43rd in the country in tackles.

Turn now to 2017. Brandon Payer is starting to turn heads the next level. In 12 games for the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves, Payer recorded 110 tackles. 71 of them were solo. That again was enough to lead a defense that finished sixth in the country. Payer finished second in the RMAC. However, he led the conference in tackles for loss with 14. Additionally, Brandon Payer got to the QB 4.5 times that season.

Other accolades include:

2018 – Semifinalist Walter V. Campbell Trophy

2018 – RMAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year

2018 – Preseason All-RMAC

2018 – College Football America Preseason Starting Line-up

2017 – AFCA All-America First Team

2017 – D2Football.com All-America Second Team

2017 – D2CCA All-Region First Team

2017 – All-RMAC First Team

2017 – All-NFFCC First Team

2017 – Cliff Harris Award Finalist

2017 – Preseason RMAC Defensive Player of the Year

2017 – Preseason All-RMAC

2016 – Don Hansen All-Region Third Team

2016 – All-RMAC First Team Defense

2016 – NFFCC All-Colorado First Team Defense

2016 – 2X RMAC Defensive Player of the Week

2016 – Academic All-RMAC First Team

2015 – RMAC All-Academic Honor Roll

Fast forward to the 1:20 mark on the video above to see Brandon Payer. You can watch the whole video if you would like to see how versatile the CSU-Pueblo offense is.

Brandon Payer is not only turning heads for the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves, but he is also turning heads across the country. If his trend continues on the up and up, he could Join Morgan Fox, Ryan Jensen, and Mike Pennel in the line of Pack players to play at the next level.

Have you seen Brandon Payer and the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves? Leave a comment below.

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*Videos Courtesy of CSU-Pueblo Athletics

**Stats and Awards Courtesy of CSU-Pueblo and NCAA.

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