Jay's dream on hold after surgery

J.K. Jay left Christ Church HS early to pursue a childhood dream when he enrolled at Clemson in January.

He went through spring practice with hopes of earning the starting nod at right tackle. Heading into camp in August, Jay was supposed to be as much a factor as Cory Lambert and Landon Walker during the competition for the right tackle spot.

While lifting weights in July, Jay's road to playing college football hit a road bump when suffered a herniated disc in his back.

While the rest of his teammates were strapping on the pads and playing football during the first week of camp, Jay was running and lifting weights in a yellow jersey.

"Even if I did red-shirt I would still be able to practice and play the game I love," he said.

About a week after camp began, it was announced that Jay would undergo surgery and miss the entire season.

For now, he's waiting for the wound left behind from the two and a half hour surgery to heal. All he can do is count down the days until he can start getting ready for 2010.

"It's a lot of just being patient, I guess," Jay said as he waited to have his picture taken with Coach Dabo Swinney at Howard's Rock before Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, "just been cheering everybody on and studying film."

Jay has been down the road down before. As a junior in high school, he injured his ankle and had to sit out.

"I learned from it the first time," he said. "All I can do is cheer on my teammates and just do everything I can for them."

Learning to get past the disappointment of missing another season of football, Jay admits that this injury has been tougher to deal with than the one he suffered in high school.

"This has been my childhood dream. Coming out here and playing this year," he said. "I don't know. I've just got to make the most of it and have faith, just roll with it." Once Jay is able to pick up his rehabilitation work, he's going focus on reshaping his body and building muscle mass with strength coach Joey Batson. He should be able to start working out with heavy, intense weight in about four weeks. Anything more physical than that is still a good 12 weeks away.

Once he's ready to take the field in 2010, Jay said he'll be bigger, stronger and faster.

"Everything happens for a reason," Jay said. "I've just got to make the most of each day."

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