In football recruiting circles, the tag athlete serves as a euphemism for we're not sure where the heck this guy is going to play in college, but he's too physically gifted not to play somewhere.
"I feel like I can help on both sides of the ball," the 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster said. "It really doesn't matter to me. I like both of the positions. I feel comfortable playing both."
Paine feels like the Hawkeye coaches will give him a shot at both spots despite the school listing him at cornerback. Coach Kirk Ferentz is saying that running back and cornerback are the two positions where he'll need contributions from true freshmen this season.
Paine excelled at various positions as a prep. During his freshman year, he played running back and rushed for 2,850 yards and 17 touchdowns on 187 carries. As a junior, he had 700 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through the air. He also picked off 12 passes in his career.
Paine reports a 4.44, 40-yard dash time. He runs sprints in track for his school's 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relay teams. The 4x100 has the fastest time in the state right now and the others are second.
As the second leg of the 4x100, Paine's best split this season is 10.1 seconds. His best 4x200 leg is 20.89.
"I enjoy track. It's pretty fun," Paine said. "I started my freshman year as something just to keep me in shape for football and work on my speed for that. I just started to like it."
Paine has spent the time following his senior football season running a lot and working on his speed. With the exit of Godfrey and Shada, as well as the transfers of Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield at corner, the freshman realizes he has a chance to get on the field quickly.
"I think weight wise I could use a few pounds, but I feel like I can come in and contribute," Paine said.
Paine is arriving in Iowa City on June 1 even though he's not due in town until the beginning of August camp.
"I want to show the team that I'm a dedicated player," he said. "I'd also like to get to know the offense and the defense and the players."
"Iowa was the first team that communicated with me, but they didn't communicate with me too much," he said. "I felt like they were genuine. I just had a good time up there and felt like it was the school for me."
"It's cool knowing that guys from my area have come up there and had success," Paine said. "I look forward to joining them."
Clayborn is a projected starter at defensive end. McNutt is competing for the starting quarterback spot and at worst will be a backup as a redshirt freshman. Chaney likely will be a starting return man and get reps at wide receiver.
And there's a good chance a fourth Gateway City native could join them on the field this fall.
"It would be a big step for me being able to come up and learn the offense and defensive stuff with the older guys," Paine said. "It will be a good experience for me, though."