Riverdale (Ga.) 2019 tight end Jaelyn Lay received an offer from Clemson while on campus for the program’s elite junior day in January.
Lay has known for a while that he wanted to be a Tiger. On Saturday, he gave his verbal commitment to Dabo Swinney and Clemson during his visit for the Tigers’ second junior day of the year.
“I made up my mind weeks ago,” Lay told The Clemson Insider. “I wanted to tell them then but I was nervous. I didn’t know how to say it, but then coach (Danny) Pearman told me that there was another junior day. It came to mind that it’s only right if I do it on campus, the same as they offered me on campus.”
Clemson assistant coaches found out about Lay’s decision first. Then he gave the good news to Swinney, who was surprised and overjoyed.
“They were shocked, but they kept it a secret from Dabo so I could tell him face to face at the end of practice,” Lay said. “He was super shocked.”
“It kind of looked like he was about to cry along with my mom,” Lay added laughing.
Lay (6-6, 220) held a handful of smaller offers before Clemson offered during his visit on Jan. 20. Lay’s recruitment subsequently took off, with offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Louisville, Ole Miss and others coming in thereafter.
After taking some more visits and weighing his options carefully, Lay concluded that Clemson was the place for him.
“It’s a good fit academically and also from a football standpoint,” he said.
Clemson’s staff likens Lay’s skillset to former Clemson star tight end Jordan Leggett.
Lay is looking forward to his future as part of the Tigers’ offense.
“They believe I can contribute a lot,” Lay said, “because I can run routes fast, can catch and I can do multiple things as well.”
Lay enjoyed being able to watch Clemson’s spring practice Saturday and has already gotten comfortable around the players.
“I loved it,” Lay said of his two Clemson visits, “especially when I was able to see them practice today, then afterwards hang out with the team like Milan Richard and Tre Lamar.”
Lay says his recruiting process is now a wrap. He’s shutting down his recruitment and won’t be taking any visits elsewhere.
“I am (shutting things down) to show respect to my family and to the university because it’s not good to be committed but still go to other schools,” Lay said.
“It feels amazing to be a Tiger.”
Lay’s father accompanied him on his first visit to Clemson, and his mother got her first look at the school and program today.
His family is All In, as well.
“They love it,” Lay said. “It was my mom’s first time and she was wowed.”
Rivals ranks Lay as the No. 10 tight end nationally.
Lay becomes the third member of Clemson’s 2019 recruiting class — and the third from the Peach State — joining Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton four-star safety Joseph Charleston and Calhoun (Ga.) athlete Brannon Spector.