With 18 returning starters, the Bruins' top receiver is confident his team can handle the heat on and off the field during another training camp in San Bernardino.
UCLA began camp Monday with an afternoon workout on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino, the Bruins' home for the next two weeks.
The temperature barely touched 85 degrees, but the UCLA veterans have promised hotter days to the youngsters - including Payton's new roommate, freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.
''It's always overhyped, ever since our freshman year when six guys went down and to the hospital,'' Payton said.
''They announced we had the most guys in the hospital in college football. That's what our selling point is to the freshmen now every year. They definitely come here wide-eyed and nervous. ... It was 116 (degrees) my freshman year, so today was not too bad.''
While they're loaded with experienced talent after their second straight 10-win season, the Bruins still see the value in getting away from Westwood to start their work. Jim Mora, their NFL veteran coach, instituted the practice when he took over the program in 2012, and his first three teams have produced a school-record 29 victories.
''We've got a lot to work on, but I think we've got a good base, a good foundation right now,'' said Paul Perkins, the Pac-12 rushing champion last season with 1,575 yards.
''I think we definitely get to bond out here. This is definitely a secluded place. I've never been out this far. Definitely none of my family are coming out this far, so it's just good to come out here and really bond with each other.''
Although new UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will have plenty of work to do, the focus for much of training camp will be at quarterback. Brett Hundley is off fighting for a third-string job with the Green Bay Packers after his record-setting career at UCLA, and he left behind two primary candidates as his successor: Rosen and junior Jerry Neuheisel.
Mora said he's looking at ''a million different things'' in evaluating his quarterbacks, from their presence in team meetings to their ability to shake off a bad throw. He plans to re-evaluate the competition at the end of the first week of practice, but set no date to determine a starter for the Sept. 5 opener against Virginia at the Rose Bowl.
The 18-year-old Rosen has been on campus since January after graduating early from high school, wowing coaches with his athleticism and smarts. But the 23-year-old Neuheisel has three years of experience with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and the memory of his impressive off-the-bench victory at Texas last season when Hundley got hurt.
''Honestly, I love them all,'' said Payton, the Bruins' top receiver last season with 67 catches for 954 yards and 7 TDs. ''This battle is a tough battle, because I have a personal connection with each one. I just try to go out there and catch. I try not to think about all the other things.''
NOTES: OL Simon Goines will miss the two-week camp with an undisclosed medical issue, Mora said. The problem isn't related to Goines' leg injuries, which limited him to six games in the past two seasons and kept him out for the entire 2014 campaign. ''We're not sure of the severity of it,'' Mora said. ''Hopefully it's not real serious.'' Goines had hoped to challenge for a starting spot at right tackle. ... Freshman WR Cordell Broadus has permission to miss the first two days of camp to handle ''some personal things,'' Mora said. Broadus is the son of hip-hop star Snoop Dogg.