Being from Anderson (S.C.), Jay Dillard is quite familiar with the Clemson baseball program.
He verbally committed to the Tigers last summer, back in July. 17, 2020, as a part of Clemson’s talented 2022 recruiting class.
Dillard is a really sound fielder, with defense always being a big focus for him. The right-handed batter and thrower is always trying to create more power from a hitting perspective in the weight room. He’s seen that come to life this past spring.
While he plays shortstop at T.L. Hanna High School, he’s a versatile defender, who can play just about anywhere he’s needed. Dillard started in the outfield for his high school, playing left field and right field, while also playing some 2B and 3B, before making SS his home after he saw some action there during his sophomore campaign.
Dillard recently caught up with The Clemson Insider regarding his commitment to Clemson and his relationship with the coaching staff.
“I had been going to camps since I was a kid,” Dillard told TCI. “[Head] Coach [Monte] Lee coached a lot of the camps that I went to, he was always there, as well as [assistant] Coach [Bradley] LeCroy.
Dillard also mentioned Tigers’ volunteer assistant coach Jared Broughton, who coached at Piedmont College prior to Clemson.
Broughton was also Dillard’s team coach.
Dillard committed to Clemson maybe a year after Broughton got the position on Lee’s coaching staff. Knowing that Broughton was there and already being familiar with him, and being really familiar with Lee and LeCroy, made it a no-brainer for Dillard to stay home.
“The relationships you create over the years, it just feels like home,” Dillard said. “It’s super comfortable to talk to them, easy conversations going. You’re never looking for topics to talk about. Always being comfortable to approach them, even before I was committed. All of them are really friendly guys, who seem to have the same belief and culture that I do. Just kind of the perfect fit for me.”
For a while, Dillard couldn’t get out to Clemson. So, it was just texting back and forth with the Tigers’ coaching staff, sending videos of some of his live at-bats that he’s doing on his own, or just some swings in the cages.
At one point, Dillard and Lee talked about working on some drills for increasing his bat speed and things like that to improve his game.
A lot of their conversations have just been about catching up with one another. They’ve talked about hunting a good bit, as they’re both avid hunters.
“I’ve said it before, but it’s a dream come true,” Dillard said. “I grew up a Clemson fan. I’ve been going to games since I was a kid. I’m super excited about it. I know a bunch of guys that are there right now or have been there. Hearing about how much fun they’ve had over the years there, I can’t wait to get on campus.”
Dillard is one of six shortstops that’s a part of Clemson’s 2022 recruiting class.
That’s something that will have to be settled once Dillard and the rest of his future teammates arrive in Tiger Town.
Back when Lee recruited Dillard to come to Clemson, he told him that he “loves recruiting shortstops because they can play anywhere on the field.” Dillard thinks that will be something that gets solved whenever the time comes.
“It’s a loaded class if you look at it,” he said. “Everybody’s put up really good numbers over the summer and over high school season. You look at, even the rankings, Perfect Game’s rankings of everyone in the class. Everyone’s a stud. It’s a loaded class for sure.”
There’s not an added responsibility or pressure for that matter in terms of changing the tide for Clemson’s baseball program, but there is some motivation there for Dillard and Co.
“The guys that I’ve talked to that are in the class and that I’ve played with some of those guys, we’re competitors,” Dillard said. “A lot of us, that I know, want to win at whatever they do. I think it’ll be a class that comes in and just wants to win.”