Paye represents Rhode Island, Hendricken well at Under Armour All-America Game
Instead of lining up against the top offensive linemen at La Salle or Portsmouth, Hendricken senior defensive end Kwity Paye found himself lining up against the likes of Trey Smith and Isaiah Wilson – the top two recruits in the country, regardless of position – in one-on-one drills last week in Orlando, Florida, as the Under Armour All-Americans practiced in preparation for Sunday’s game.
Paye, who will be donning the maize and blue at the University of Michigan next fall, had to adjust his game on the first day of practice. No longer was he the biggest and fastest player on the field like he was every Friday night under the lights in Rhode Island.
Smith, a University of Tennessee commit, and Wilson, a University of Georgia commit, for example, register at 6-foot-6, 299 pounds and 6-foot-7, 354 pounds, respectively.
“On the first day of practice, I struggled a bit because I’m not used to going against guys a lot larger than me,” Paye said. “The first day was an adjustment, but after the first day, I knew I was there for a reason and had to just go out there and perform. On the second day, I came out with a better mindset to play faster and more physical. Throughout the week, I started to play better.”
By the second and third practice sessions that aired on ESPNU, Paye looked more comfortable, displaying why he burst onto the scene as one of the top defensive end prospects in the country over the fall, giving opposing offensive linemen fits during one-on-one drills with his quickness and athleticism.
When it came to game time on ESPN on Sunday afternoon, Paye demonstrated his ability in front of a national audience.
He had two plays, in particular, that stood out – a tackle for loss on a run play and a quarterback pressure on a throwaway.
“I felt like I played all right,” Paye said of his performance. “I felt like I could’ve played a little bit better, but I’m satisfied with the way I played.”
Paye’s harshest critic may be himself, because Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown came away impressed with his future player’s impact on the field against the top talent in the country.
“Don Brown, the defensive coordinator, talked to me after the game and told me I did a great job,” Paye said.
There’s no question that Paye’s time in Orlando last week will be invaluable as he takes to the field in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Competing against players who are tabbed to step in and contribute for some of the top college football programs in the country gave Paye a gauge for where he’s at as a player.
“For sure,” Paye responded when asked if his experiences in Orlando would give him confidence entering the college game. “I was happy that I was able to go out there and compete with those guys. I’m glad I got the chance to go there and see what it will be like at the next level.”