The Under Armour All-America Game features over 90 of the nation’s top recruits. One name to watch? Michigan commit Kwity Paye.
What do Julio Jones, Jameis Winston, and A.J. Green have in common? Well, besides being some of football’s biggest stars, they also all played in the Under Armour All-America Game. The yearly showcase is broadcast live on ESPN and features over 90 of the country’s top high school seniors.
When you watch the game, held this year on January 1 at 1 p.m. ET in Orlando, you are seeing the future of football. Now in its tenth year, the event has already featured 120+ NFL draft picks (30+ first rounders) and multiple Pro Bowlers. This year’s roster is the most stacked one yet and one of the names to watch is definitely Bishop Hendricken High School star Kwity Paye.
A world-class running back AND defensive end, Paye is the first Rhode Island player to ever attend the Under Armour All-America Game. He was recently named Gatorade Rhode Island Player of the Year and has committed to the University of Michigan where he will play along the defensive line. We had the chance to chat with Kwity about his bright future, big goals, and incredible journey.
Eastbay: Congratulations on being invited to the Under Armour All-America Game! That’s quite an honor. How excited are you to play in the game?
Kwity: It’s a great opportunity for me and Rhode Island. I’m the first person from this state to be invited, so I’m excited to go there and show the rest of the country what this state is all about. People overlook Rhode Island when it comes to football so hopefully I can go out there and show everyone how we do football.
Eastbay: The game will be on ESPN. What skills do you want to showcase to everyone watching?
Kwity: I’ll be playing d-end at Michigan, so I definitely want to make some plays. Hopefully I can grab a couple of sacks.
Eastbay: Let’s talk a little about Michigan for a second… The recruiting process can be so crazy and for top prospects like you, you heard from tons of different schools… What made Michigan the right fit?
Kwity: Over time, I started to notice that some recruiters were pushing me to commit. Michigan was very laid back. They said, ‘It’s your choice, your life, you can do what you want.’ They didn’t push me and that was a huge factor. They let me take it easy during the whole process and have fun with it.
Eastbay: Playing for Coach Harbaugh has to be fun too…
Kwity: Oh yeah, he’s a great coach. When he was on the 49ers, he brought them to a championship. And now, at Michigan, he’s helping that program rise. They were already really good and now they’re becoming great. So I have a lot of trust in him.
Eastbay: When it came to making your decision, whose advice did you really listen to?
Kwity: I would say my mom. She’s been there throughout my career and kind of let me decide what I wanted to do. She said, ‘This is your life. Really think and pray on it.’
Eastbay: During your time at Hendricken, you were a star running back and defensive end. What position did you like playing more?
Kwity: I started as an offensive player, but I’ve kind of fallen in love with the defensive side of the ball. My defensive coordinator helped form me into the defensive lineman I am right now. He spent a lot of time working with me and teaching me all of the new schemes.
Eastbay: What challenges did you have when you switched over to defense?
Kwity: Once my main position switched to defense, I had to focus more on reading tackles, pulls, and things like that. I had to watch a lot of film, pay attention, and work extra hard in practice every day.
Eastbay: OK, a young football player comes up to you and wants to be where you are now—a big-time recruit about to play for a major college program and with a really bright future. What advice do you give him?
Kwity: I would say, ‘Don’t choose your position right away.’ I thought I was going to be a running back, but sophomore year they moved me to LB. Then eventually I moved to d-line. I was kind of bummed out about it at first. But I learned that wherever your coach moves you, you should take pride in that and put 100% into it. That might be the one place where your team needs you.