Though Clemson heads into the spring with some question marks at tight end, the one thing tight ends coach Danny Pearman does know is what he is getting in early enrollee Jaylene Lay.
The true freshman enrolled at Clemson last month and is expected to participate in spring practice, which begins on Feb. 27.
With Garrett Williams leaning towards leaving football for a career in the military and with Milan Richard and Cannon Smith gone due to graduation, the Tigers possibly will have one player—J.C. Chalk—with experience back at the position, and that experience is limited.
Rising sophomore Braden Galloway is currently suspended by the NCAA, while he awaits for the appeal process to play out. Galloway will still practice this spring, but the Tigers have to also prepare as if he will not be available for the fall, which is why it is important that they get Lay up to speed.
Lay was rated as the No. 16 player in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com coming out of Riverdale High School. The 4-star product was rated the No. 3 tight end nationally, as well by Rivals, and the 157th player overall.
“Jaylene is a long-rangy young man who is a basketball kid and a football kid,” Pearman said. “He came to (summer) camp and did a really good job. From a route-running and catch-radius standpoint, he has the skill sets that you look for.”
At 6-foot-6, Lay is tied for being the tallest tight end in Clemson history. Last year, he helped Riverdale High School to an 8-4 record and to the second-round of the state playoffs. He had 29 receptions for 240 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 and had seven for 119 yards and a touchdown in 2016.
“If he can add the physical part to it, of being ‘wait and see’ from where he is at from that standpoint, then also the retention of the offense. How much can he retain? How much information? How many plays can he handle? Those will be his biggest questions that will be answered in time,” Pearman said.
The Tigers will not get Lay’s fellow freshman tight end, Davis Allen, until the summer.
Ranked as 15th-best tight end/H Back in the nation by ESPN.com, Allen had a strong senior season at Calhoun High School, where he was named the Region 6 AAA Defensive Player of the Year. He earned first-team all-region on offense and defense. He was also first-team Chattanooga All-Area and County Defensive Player of the Year.
“Davis is a three-sport athlete at Calhoun, Georgia, where played football, basketball and baseball,” Pearman said. “So, I’m really excited about his future.
“They both have some catch-up work to do in the weight room, like anyone who is coming into the program. They will get right involved as soon as they get here. I have no doubt that both will work extremely hard to help our football program.”
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