Kwity Paye knew he had a lot of support.
After all, he was one of two players to earn a spot in the Under Armour All-America Game as winners of the #DreamFearlessly Fan Vote.
Then, he saw just how much support he has when the Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance came to his school, Bishop Hendricken (Warwick, R.I.), on Thursday to present him with his honorary jersey for the Jan. 1 showcase in Orlando. More than 350 people attended an event in his honor.
“It was great,” he said. “All my classmates got into it. They were all hype.
“It was a great experience to see how many people are really behind me and the huge amount of support that I have.”
Paye, defensive end committed to Michigan, survived the four rounds of voting over five weeks and won the final round with 65.53% of the vote over Kevin Jarvis, a Michigan State commit from Maine South (Park Ridge, Ill.).
“It wasn’t all me. It was mainly my teachers, the guidance counselors at my school that put all of this together, the coaches, and just the amount of people that voted and getting the whole community and school involved it,” he said.
Paye said he thought he had a good shot of winning it all after a second-round victory against Ben Mason from Sandy Hook (Conn.) because the community continued to push.
Now that he’s heading to Orlando, it doesn’t matter whether it as by winning the fan vote or being chosen by the selection committee.
“I’m still an All-American,” he said. “It’s real honor. I’m there to play and do my best to perform. … I’m trying to take in as much as I can. I want to have a winning experience there.”
A former Boston College commit, Paye switched to Michigan in late October about three weeks after his official visit.
“My experience with (coach Jim Harbaugh) was that he was pretty laid-back,” Paye said. “He didn’t pressure me to commit right away. He encouraged me to see what was out there for me. He told that he wants recruits to make sure they are where they should be. He played a big role in my commitment just in terms of watching him on the field and spending time with him in person.”