The Wolverine

February 2020*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2020 M ichigan junior defensive end Kw- ity Paye was always considered a strong lean to return for his senior season. He made it official Dec. 26, an- nouncing on Twitter that he'd spend his senior year in Ann Arbor. "Playing football at the University of Michigan has afforded me oppor- tunities I would have never achieved without coming to Ann Arbor," he wrote. "I am forever appreciative of how the university welcomed a kid from little ol' Rhode Island with open arms. I am grateful for everything I have experienced, as well as my coaches, teammates and Michigan fans everywhere. I love this town and the university and I have loved play- ing for the 'Block M.' "With that being said, I want to continue to be a contributor for this team. I want to grow my game and help my teammates grow theirs while learning all I can from our coaching staff. I want to finish my de- gree next fall, earn a third Academic All-Big Ten award and continue to experience college life." Paye was part of the self-pro- claimed "salt and pepper" end com- bination with sophomore Aidan Hutchinson. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season af- ter notching 50 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss and 6.5 sacks, and he will be a strong candidate for captain next year. Junior cornerback Ambry Thomas, meanwhile, announced during Cit- rus Bowl practices that he would be returning for his senior year, though he did leave the door open just a crack. "I'm out here right now, practicing with the team," he said. "I mean … I'm back. Put it like that. I'm back. I'm with my guys [and expect] to lead the team to a good year next year." He then hedged. "If I did come to a decision, it would be after this [Alabama] game, honestly. A great group of receivers [we're playing] … why not? You feel me? But yeah, I'm not thinking about that right now," he said. "We're go- ing to see how the game goes. You've got first-rounder, first-rounder, first- rounder and I'm out here doing my thing. Why not?" Thomas earned Michigan's Defen- sive Skill Player of the Year honor this year after overcoming a severe case of colitis this summer to play in all 13 games. He notched 38 tackles (three for loss), three interceptions, four passes broken up and two fum- ble recoveries during an outstanding junior campaign. The Detroit native kept his mes- sage on his return short and simple, tweeting, "Ain't this what they been waiting for … You ready?! #lastride." — Chris Balas SIX MORE WON'T RETURN IN 2020 Several more Michigan players from the 2019 team have announced they won't return in 2020, including a pair of junior starters. Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones has opted for an early shot at the NFL, join- ing center Cesar Ruiz, while running back Tru Wilson and defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour will pursue fifth years elsewhere. Junior defensive back Jaylen Kelly- Powell and redshirt junior Stephen Spanellis also announced their trans- fers on social media. Peoples-Jones had reportedly been on the fence before announcing his decision Jan. 4. "Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and the University of Michigan have pro- vided me with an exceptional college experience and I deeply value the relationships that I forged through- out my time in Ann Arbor," Peoples- Jones wrote on Twitter. "To all of the coaches, thank you for always push- ing me and helping me make my journey at Michigan so special.   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Kwity Paye And Ambry Thomas Announce They'll Be Back In 2020 Paye recorded 50 stops, 12.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks en route to second-team All-Big Ten accolades as a junior. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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