Paye set for historic night

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 4/28/21

One of the biggest nights in the history of Rhode Island sports is coming this Thursday, as Providence native and Bishop Hendricken alum Kwity Paye will (almost certainly) be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. This will be the first time in

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Paye set for historic night

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One of the biggest nights in the history of Rhode Island sports is coming this Thursday, as Providence native and Bishop Hendricken alum Kwity Paye will (almost certainly) be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

This will be the first time in nearly 90 years that a Rhode Islander has been selected in the first round and Paye will be on the short list of locals to ever get drafted.

Even if in some shocking scenario he falls to the second round, this is still a big deal, but let’s stick with first round scenario here.

There have obviously been some great athletes to come from the Ocean State and go on to have excellent professional careers. Rocco Baldelli, Will Blackmon, and many more. I think what separates Paye from the rest though is the age in which he is becoming a national figure as well as the crazy potential he holds in his talent.

Football is America’s game. Sorry, baseball, but you are now in the back seat. Let’s be honest.

Paye has become one of the top defensive players in this draft and is widely regarded as a top-20 pick, some have him as high as the early teens.

He’s big, strong, fast, explosive, and comes from one of the best programs in the country at Michigan. He can line up on the inside or outside of the line, has a high IQ, and is a high-level prospect in every sense of the word.

Thursday will mark a historic night for Rhode Island. One of its own is going to be on the national stage, kicking off a career in the country’s most watched sport.

I have gone on and on in the past about local athletes going pro and how important it is for the state. I’ll do it again here, only for a little bit.

As we know, Rhode Island is a small state that is often overlooked when it comes to high school athletes. Kids around here have to work twice as hard to get half the attention of most other states.

Paye was one of the uncommon athletes to be sought out and recruited. Not only did he live up to the attention he received, he exceeded it, and is now on his way to a potentially big time professional career.

Since I have been here covering sports over the past three years, it seems like we have inched our way closer to a major breakthrough, and this should be it.

Paye’s likely first-round drafting will show the country that not only good athletes can be found in Rhode Island … but great, sport-changing ones can, too.

Hopefully this will only continue the momentum that has been built over the course of the past decade or so and we start seeing more stories like this come from our own backyard.

Tune in and enjoy. The NFL Draft is one of my favorite nights on the sports calendar each year, so having this twist will make it even better. It’s another spring event, reminding us that summer is right around the corner. It’s a fun night where we get introduced to football’s soon-to-be stars. It’s just a fun weekend all around.

The other thing to watch will be the Patriots. What will they do with the 15th overall selection? Maybe they’re the ones who pick Paye and his story comes full circle. That would be something special to see.

In my eyes, the Patriots probably won’t trade up for a quarterback, and they probably will draft a player that no one sees coming. They have a knack for doing that and I expect no different.

Other big news to break last week was the announcement that wrestling and competitive cheer - two sports considered to be “high risk” - will be cleared to compete this spring season.

To be honest with you, I really never understood why competitive cheer was considered high risk. Football … a game with constant contact, tackling, blocking. A game that revolves around 22 players competing with the same ball, with crowded sidelines, shared equipment, all of that. That is considered more risky than cheerleading?

Basketball. A game with contact, sharing one ball, players sweating on one another, crowded at the free throw line, boxing out under the hoop. That is more risky?

This is not me complaining, it’s just me being utterly confused by the high risk designation. Regardless, cheer is back which is great to see.

As for wrestling, this is a sport with an obvious high risk designation. I won’t bore you with the specifics on that one.

Having said that, like most wrestling fans in the state, I had some real doubts about this spring season. Even the people in the wrestling community that I spoke to that were optimistic, there was always a bit of doubt.

I’ll even go as far as to say that I am surprised that there is a season at all. I really did not expect there to be. So, for those grapplers that are itching to hit the mat, I am happy for you and am excited to get a season in.

I know that there have been some talks regarding possible outdoor wrestling matches. I covered an outdoor tournament in Maine a few years back and I loved it. I thought it was a great idea and these outdoor tournaments have become more popular.

The only issue that they ran into was the mats getting hot. It was in July and about 80 or so degrees, but the solution was spraying them off between rounds with cold water which did the trick. No big deal.

It sounds like it will all be indoor and will resemble the norm which is fine as well. Whatever works.

I would just recommend the state and league keeping the outdoor idea in mind, even if just for the future. Not only would it be different, but it would also provide some really exciting venue options. Imagine seeing a wrestling mat on home plate of McCoy, with the kids running out of the dugout to their names being announced to do battle? How fun would that be?

Either way, I am happy to see spring sports back in full swing and those two high risk sports back in the fold as well. Should be a fun few months,

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