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2021 NFL Draft

Michigan OLB Kwity Paye Stays Humble On His Path to the NFL



The NFL Draft is an opportunity that kids dream of for their entire childhood. There is a thrill of hearing your name called and then putting on an NFL jersey that speaks to the hard work it takes to make it to the top of the league. For Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye, the journey to the NFL has been one he has dreamt of since he was in sixth grade.

However, he never wanted to get big-headed on his way there. For Paye, this is where a special wallet came into play. It was a wallet of quotes that Paye wrote down throughout his years of playing football. They were to remind him of where he was so he could stay humble.

Some of the quotes that were scattered throughout the pages were “nothing worth having comes easy”, “work hard and take care of my family”, and “remember when you wanted what you currently have.”

Paye’s background is noted as being one of migration to Rhode Island. He was in a refugee camp in Guinea after the First Liberian Civil War. When he and his mom came to the United States, Paye grew up in a rough area around Providence. The sacrifice his mom has made for him to get to this point only motivates Paye.

“It feels amazing to take care of her,” Paye said. “That’s a thing I wanted to do since I was young. I just saw how hard she worked and how much she struggled to get us through.”

After a strong 2020 season, Paye’s journey is nearly complete. It is likely he will be a first-round draft pick. In the past two drafts, Michigan has produced Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary, and Josh Uche. Paye is another guy in that lineage of pass rushers, and he says they helped shape his game.

“Josh Uche really helped me in practice last year,” Paye said. “He would do a move and then just tell me this is how I set it up, this is what I’m looking for when I’m doing this.”

Paye did have a meeting with the Steelers recently. It is not crazy to think he could be available at 24. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert often make the trip to Michigan Pro Day, so it would be no surprise to see them there on Friday.

As for Paye, he has an insane track background. He was the anchor on a State Championship 4×100 team. Paye was also a State Champion in the Long Jump. It will be no surprise if he tests off the chart on Friday in Ann Arbor.