Clemson offensive tackle J.K. Jay's football career is over due to back injuries, the school announced on Wednesday. Jay, a freshman from Greenville, S.C., had two back surgeries this past fall after initially suffering a back injury while lifting weights last summer. Jay will remain a student at Clemson and become a student-coach.
“It is most important to me that I have a normal life when I am older,” Jay said in a prepared statement. “After talking to the doctors, it was obvious that by returning to the football field I would be at a high risk for serious injury. I want to be able to play with my kids when I start a family years from now.”
This is sad news for Jay. And while the news won't help Clemson's offensive line -- which could have used him -- the bigger issue is that his career ended before it even started. He was listed as a co-starter at right tackle entering fall camp, which gives you an idea of how highly the staff thought of him and how high the expectations were. The back injury forced him to have surgery, though, and redshirt. It was an extremely tough season for him, as he had another back surgery in December after mononucleosis in the fall forced him to drop out of school. Jay returned to campus on Wednesday and will be back in class this semester.
Jay enrolled at Clemson in January 2009 following an outstanding high school career at Christ Church Episcopal School. A Shrine Bowl selection for the South Carolina team, he was ranked the No. 139 player in the nation by ESPN.com. He was also selected to play in the ESPN/Under Armour All-American game.
Jay will remain on scholarship, but as a career-ending medical hardship, he will not be counted toward Clemson’s maximum 85 scholarship limit.