Kwity Paye, a former football standout at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, R.I., is heading to Indianapolis.
The Colts selected Paye, a 6-foot-2, 272-pound edge rusher at the University of Michigan, with the 21st overall pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday.
According to the Providence Journal, Paye is the first Rhode Islander to be taken in the first round in 82 years.
Paye was born in a refugee camp in Guinea to a Liberian mother. He was named for his grandfather, who was killed in a Liberian civil war. His mother, Agnes, relocated to Providence when he was six months old, according to ESPN.
Agnes worked multiple jobs to help the family thrive. Now, Paye revealed, she can rest as he helps support the family.
“She’s done working,” Paye said during the draft broadcast. “She’s retired.”
At Michigan, Paye was named a team captain, had 6.5 sacks as a junior, and was a three-time academic All-Big Ten selection.
“Terrific athlete,” draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on ESPN. “I think he is a physical specimen.”
Kiper Jr. said Paye needs to develop a secondary move and improve his consistency, but he called him aggressive and is intrigued by his upside.
Paye never reached the flashy production his traits suggest are possible, collecting just 11.5 sacks in four seasons in Ann Arbor. He flashed dominance when healthy the past two seasons, however, notching career-highs in tackles (50), tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (6.5) in 2019 before a groin injury and the shortened Big Ten season limited him to just four games in 2020.
After helping Bishop Hendricken reach the Rhode Island state championship game in 2016, Paye signed with Michigan as a relatively ho-hum three-star prospect. He earned playing time immediately, seeing action in nine games as a true freshman (5 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack) before tasting his first bit of starting — and starring — action as a sophomore in 2018, appearing in all 13 games and starting four alongside future early NFL draft picks Rashan Gary, a 2019 first round pick by the Green Bay Packers, as well as Chase Winovich and Josh Uche, both of whom are now members of the New England Patriots.
Material from Stats LLC was included in this report.
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Trevor Hass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.