After going back and forth between his own thoughts and the opinions he received from people in his life this offseason, Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye decided it was best for him to return to Ann Arbor for his senior year.
Paye met with the media over Zoom on Thursday and was very blunt about the factors that led to his decision — the ability to earn his degree, to play for his Michigan teammates and coaches once more and the motivation to win a championship.
“Everybody on this team, since the past four years, we don’t have any rings,” Paye said. “Even our fifth years — we don’t have any rings, bowl games, championships, we don’t have nothing. We’re all hungry. This is my last go around, and yeah, I’m trying to get a ring this year.”
Paye expanded on those thoughts, saying he came to Michigan to “be a champion, and I’m yet to be a champion. I’m trying to accomplish that one thing because I feel like I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. I feel like this is a great organization, I feel like we’ve done a lot of great things, we’ve just got to finish at the end of the season. I feel like this year is the year to do it because it’s my last year. I’m giving it all I’ve got, this team is giving it all we’ve got. Just trying to get that ring.”
Getting a ring is something no Michigan football team has been able to accomplish since 2004 when it last won the Big Ten. Michigan also hasn’t won a bowl game since Jim Harbaugh’s first season, winning the Citrus Bowl against Florida. But if Paye and his teammates want to reach those goals in 2020, there are many hurdles to get over, perhaps more than in a typical year.
It’s an uphill battle in 2020 due to COVID-19, so it’s pertinent for players and coaches to stay healthy and to not go through anything like what the Tennessee Titans are going through in the NFL. Michigan has done a very good job maintaining the virus, so they should be okay in that regard.
The Wolverines also must run the table all the way until the Ohio State game on Dec. 12, as there is a good chance the Buckeyes will likely be undefeated heading into that game. The good thing here is the team never stopped practicing. With four new starters along the offensive line, a new quarterback and new pieces on the defense, it’s is very important to have solid team chemistry before games begin. They should, theoretically, have that heading into their first game of the season at Minnesota on Oct. 24.
All in all, one of Michigan’s senior leaders is back and heavily motivated. He and his teammates seem to have the bar set high during this strange eight-game 2020 season. Regardless of how different it may be, Paye and his teammates are motivated and hungry to flip the narrative. And it all starts in a little more than two weeks.