Valai emulates NFL defensive backs like Ray Crockett, Bob Sanders, Ray Mickens and Tyrone Carter. Anyone sense a theme with those choices? All four are considered diminutive for their positions (the tallest is Crockett at 5-10) and only Sanders weighs more than 200 pounds. Yet they are all known as feisty competitors who can deliver a blow.
It is clear that Valai has patterned himself after that type of player. He is not the tallest cornerback prospect out there, but with a 300-pound bench press max, a nearly 200-pound frame, and the ability to run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, Valai is an intriguing athlete. With his physical style, he could end up at safety in the college.
Defensively, Valai had 62 tackles, 16 pass breakups, two interceptions and two sacks as a senior. He was first-team all-district on defense and district special teams player of the year, in a district that included the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, Southlake Carroll.
Valai has a 3.2 grade-point average and he scored a 1510 on the new version of the SAT. He plans to pursue a career as a sports agent once his football playing days are complete.
Badger Nation: Do you remember what your first impression of the University of Wisconsin was?
Jay Valai: "Alive. That's all can say here. Because I watched some of the games, learned how crazy the fans are. That's another thing I love. I love the fans. Because when fans are backing you up you can get a whole 'nother adrenaline rush. Adrenaline really helps you out in a football game, when you are pumped up like that. That really can be a factor in a lot of games. So I like the fans a lot.
"And the facilities are just out of this world too.
"Plus I like Coach (Bret) Bielema's swagger. I saw swagger in some other coaches, but Coach Bielema has his swagger down, with his quiet confidence about himself, that he believes in himself very strongly. And I like that a lot. You can't have the leader of the ship all scared and stuff."
BN: Does that work well with your personality?
JV: "I'm the same way. I'm confident in myself."
BN: What would you say is your favorite memory from your official visit?
JV: "Probably when I went to the basketball game. I've been to a lot of basketball games, college and NBA. I've never seen the way (the Badgers) come out—like how crazy the fans are too. But you know how most teams do their starting five and then (the other team's) starting five. How (the Badgers) all do it one at a time and start doing crazy clap things like the Gator clap thing. That's kind of cool because the fans get that much into it."
BN: Best sports movie of all time?
JV: "Probably not the most loveable one, like Remember the Titans. But I love Any Given Sunday… .that and The Program."
BN: Do you have a favorite non-sport historical figure?
JV: "Jesus Chryst… That's someone in my life every day."
BN: Do you anticipate redshirting?
JV: "I don't anticipate redshirting. I anticipate playing because the cornerback issues right now, they don't have too many of them. (I am) working my butt off every day and hopefully I'll be ready. Cause I know it's more of a mental aspect too, but I just want to work.
"This fall I'm cool with it (redshirting). But do I anticipate it? No, I hope not. I pray not. Everyday it's what I think about it when I'm working out. Because if I'm not working, somebody else is."
BN: Do you have any goals in mind for yourself for your Wisconsin career?
JV: "Team first. I want wins… I never made the playoffs in high school."