UTC's Jay Hay Has Found a Football Home

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

“Without a doubt, I cannot think of a place I would rather be than here at UTC playing football. The veteran players welcomed me this summer as a junior college transfer with open arms.”

UTC defensive back Jay Hay

It’s been a crazy, at times frustrating and difficult, four-year football journey for Dade County, Fla. native Jeremiah “Jay” Hay.

But after a long, winding crisscrossing the nation journey, the 22-year-old 5-10 talented cornerback for the UTC Mocs is finally settled and happy.

“I have been through some tough times the past four years but through God’s grace UTC is where I need to be,” said the All-Dade County quarterback as a senior at Booker T. Washington High School in the fall of 2010.  “The Lord is my ultimate source and I know I cannot rely on man, but to rely only on God who has been my encouragement.”

So open up your Rand McNally or turn on your gps and here we go.

With a resume showing five colleges in less than four years, he not only has changed climates and time zones more times than politicians on the campaign trail, he has also earned an unofficial degree in cross-cultural history.

From the sun and surf of South Beach to Oxford, Miss. (Ole Miss) and the ultimate in Deep South football tradition to America's melting pot of immigrants in New York’s borough of Brooklyn to more fun and sun and playing a little football in Pasadena, Calif. Then back to Dade County  (Fla.) Junior College (to earn his Associates of Arts Degree) and round two in the Deep South at UTC.

He knows more deans of admission on a first name basis than Johnny Football knows bouncers at clubs from Las Vegas to Chicago.

One year he is cheering on the NBA Heat and boyhood hero D Wade to saying “y’all” and learning that grits and biscuits, The Bible, Hotty Toddy and three Miss America alums are all somehow connected in a small, coat and tie, yes ma’am, yes sir southern town culture to the cold, fast-paced yet opportunistic Big Apple to the land of the ‘60s Beach Boys music with Help me Rhonda, Little Deuce Coupe and the Little Old Lady from Pasadena.     

“Thanks to former Ole Miss assistant coach Barnie Farras and my mentor and high school coach Shaeed Samuels, I have continued my college football career, work toward a college degree and work part time earning some money to help take care of my (five year old) son, Jamar, who lives with his mother in Dade County,” said Hay who hopes to have Jamar attend a Mocs home game this fall.

Hotty Toddy: Graduating from Booker T. Washington with a 3.5 in the spring of 2011, Hay headed to Ole Miss that fall as a preferred walk-on with an academic scholarship and the hopes and dreams of playing big time college football.

But by the winter of 2012 and having gone through two falls and no game action with the Rebels, Hay decided to look elsewhere.

“I enjoyed my time at Ole Miss, but when I didn’t get a scholarship and believing I was as good or better than the guys ahead of me on the team, I thought it best to move on,” Hay stated.

“Coach Farras was great in putting me in contact with the football staff at ASA Junior College in Brooklyn and I was on the roster for the spring 2013 semester.”

The Big Apple: While ASA provided room and tuition on campus, Hay and his fellow teammates had no on-campus food courts available which caused Hay some financial difficulties even with a part time job.

“I was making straight As in the classroom, going through spring practice and holding down a part time job, but in the end it was not the best fit for me.”

He then returned home to spend time with his son and work part-time in the summer of 2013 before another football opportunity in Pasadena came available for that fall.

Hay played in most of the games at Pasadena (Calif.) City College and made As and Bs before transferring to Dade County (Fla.) Junior College this past spring to complete his AA degree.

“I had a few schools interested in me (Fresno State, San Diego State, Idaho, Murray State (Ky,), but in the end UTC was my best option.

“Coach Samuels contacted UTC defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite for me and once I earned by AA degree in July I was a Moc,” stated Hay with a smile.

“I love it here at UTC and want to be part of something special with this football program. It’s a real brotherhood on the team and the guys have embraced me and made me feel part of the team more than at any other school.”

Season Opener: With the season opener a week away at Central Michigan, Hay has proved to be a valuable member of the defensive unit and currently is a capable back-up to returning starter Dee Virgin.

“Jay has come a long way since arriving here in late July and gets better each day,” said UTC defensive backs coach B.J. Hogan. “He moves well, has good feet, gives us depth at defensive back and his best football is ahead of him.”

Now on full scholarship with Pell Grant money in which to help his son and having found a college home, Hay’s best days are definitely in the future.

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

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