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It didn't take the Clemson coaching staff long to get its feet wet with the 2009 recruiting class, as on Saturday morning, as first reported by Tigerillustrated.com 6-foot-6, 275-pound stud rising junior offensive lineman J.K. Jay committed.
The talented trenchman from Greenville - Christ Church, rated by Tigerillustrated.com as the No. 1 offensive lineman in-state for 2009, pledged to the Tigers just moments before the annual Orange & White game on Saturday while on an unofficial visit to Clemson.
"I like Clemson because of the great Christian values of the coaches and players," Jay told Tigerillustrated.com Associate Editor Ryan Bartow in an in-person exclusive interview Monday morning. "The tradition at Clemson is great, the facilities are great, the fans are great. I was just comfortable there."
Jerome Kenneth Jay told Tigerillustrated.com it was likely around the six-year old mark he became a Clemson fan.
"My grandfather (Bob Webb) has always been a big Clemson fan. He took us over to see the games," said the athletic lineman.
But there was a time over the last year when the Christ Church star felt he could leave the state to play college ball.
"I started to get recruited by other schools. I didn't think I was going to Clemson," he said. "I figured I was going to go somewhere I hadn't been yet. I figured I would go through the process."
Christ Church head football coach Ashley Haskins told Tigerillustrated.com for some time the writing has been on the wall for one of the state's premiere lineman recruits.
"Probably at the end of his freshman year, I guess we knew he was going to be special. He has always been a big, tall kid with a lot of potential," said Haskins. "He got serious with the weights, went to camps, clinics and we knew at that point he was committed."
The blue-chip tackle, at 16-years old, already bench presses 335 pounds, and has run a documented hand-held 4.78 in the forty-yard dash. Jay also plays basketball, and is hitting .400 as a first baseman in baseball.
"If he gets his mind on something, if he wants it bad enough, he's going to take it," Haskins offered. "It's sort of hard to think back too far with him because he's still so young. I remember him when he was in middle school. And he was a big boy then."
Clemson offensive line coach Brad Scott and inside linebackers coach David Blackwell tag-teamed in landing Jay. Both scouted the big man in both football and basketball.
"Coach Scott, I love coach Scott. He's a great man and a great Christian guy," Jay noted. "Coach Blackwell also has good Christian values."
Jay said when he said yes to Scott on Saturday, he was later congratulated by nearly every other Clemson assistant coach.
"They all congratulated me, I think. Coach (Chris) Rumph even told me that I might not like him during the week, but we'll be best friends on Saturdays," said the 275-pounder. "Coach (Billy) Napier is a fun guy to be around, too. He's a great guy, and makes you laugh."
Jay said the Tigers' head coach also has made a positive impression thus far.
"He's a great Christian man. He's really nice, and has been very helpful and informative to me and my family," said the new commit. "Coach Bowden is real close to me and my family."
Jay also has developed a close bond with one of the Tigers' 2007 signees, Greenville offensive tackle David Smith.
"Me and him have done a lot of things together on the weekends," Jay entailed. "He came by the school last Friday and we had lunch together, just me and him. We're pretty close."
Jay also has a rapport with other Clemson 2007 signees, offensive linemen Wilson Norris, Mason Cloy, Landon Walker and quarterback Willy Korn.
And before leaving the Orange & White scrimmage on Saturday, the Christ Church product put in a few good words for his future school on what was his first official, unofficial recruiting pitch.
"I talked to Xavier Brewer a little," he said. "I talked to him about Clemson for a bit, and told him I would be blocking for Clemson in two years."
Brewer, one of the nation's top cornerback prospects and a Rivals100 member, hails from Jacksonville, Fla. - Bartram Trail, and is one of the Tigers' top overall recruiting targets for the 2008 class.
Speaking of class, Jay has all of that well under control, carrying a 3.4 GPA and a 1400 on the PSAT into his junior year, firmly on pace to graduate in December of his senior year.
"He's just a good boy," Haskins bragged to Tigerillustrated.com. "This morning, for example, he was the first one here waiting on me to open up the weight room. I had just dropped my daughter off to school, and he was here waiting on me. He's a yes sir, no sir young man, he works hard, he's got a great family who does a lot for us with our booster club and school. He comes from good stock."
Haskins said Jay's technique has improved significantly over the last year.
"His feet have gotten better. His speed helps him a lot, too," said the head coach. "He stays with his blocks real well, and just pays a lot of attention to detail. His steps have come a long way, and just the tenacity he plays the game with. He plays hard."
A rock solid pledge for the Orange & White, not only does Jay's name added to Clemson's committed board give Scott's offensive front yet more credibility for the future, the Greenville star also gives the Tigers a national recruiting-get to kick off their 2009 class.
"I'm sure coach Bowden and his staff will take care of the rest of the (2009) class," Jay told Tigerillustrated.com. "But I'll probably do what Willy (Korn) did at camp. I'll be happy to help (recruit) in any way that I can."
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