After piling up the records and awards last year for the Centre College football team, Jordan Gay has already begun getting noticed in the preseason.
Gay, a Danville graduate, has been named a preseason second team Division III All-America punter by Beyond Sports Network.
“I was a little shocked, but it really doesn’t mean anything until you play a game,” said Gay, who will be a senior this season. “But it feels good to show all that hard work pays off.”
It paid off big time for Gay and the Colonels last season.
Gay is coming off a season in which he led Centre and was second in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in scoring with 84 points. He made 45 of 46 extra-point attempts and 11 of 16 field-goal attempts, including a long of 51 yards. Gay also averaged 41.3 yards per punt on 49 attempts, with 14 punts landing inside the 20-yard line.
He even ran in a 7-yard touchdown on a fake field goal in a win over Sewanee.
“That was my first touchdown ever. That was pretty exciting,” he said.
Following his outstanding year, Gay was named the SCAC special teams player of the year and was named to the D3football.com all-South Region team.
Gay transferred to his hometown school after kicking for Murray State his freshman season, and has set five school records so far at Centre. He has school marks for longest field goal (52 yards), field goals in a season (12), field goals in a game (5), extra points in a season (45) and best season punting average (43.1 yards per punt).
He ranked eight nationally in punting average last fall, and Centre ranked second in the nation in net punting at 37.78 yards per punt.
“That all comes down to coverage, which we’ve always had in the past,” he said.
Now Gay is ready for an even better senior season for the Colonels, who are coming off a 9-2 season and their first Division III playoff appearance and are ranked 12th in the nation by Lindy’s Sports.
“I really want to have a good punting year,” he said. “I really want to improve on my field goals. We have our snapper (Robert Morris) and holder back (Jason Osterman), and that definitely helps with rhythm. Hopefully I’ll be better than last year.”
With kickoffs being moved up 5 yards this season, Gay said how he kicks off depends on who they are playing.
“I can either kick it out fo the end zone, or kick it real high to about the 5-yard line and let the kickoff team cover it,” he said.
Centre coach Andy Frye called Gay one of the most dangerous weapons the Colonels have.
“Jordan is as good as we’ve ever had here, punting and kicking,” Frye said. “There’s no question, especially when we’re in the red zone, that if we can’t scored a touchdown, we’re in a position to score. And he offers us that.
“Any team we play knows that if we’re inside the 40, we’ve got a good chance to get something out of it.”
Gay said he wants to become an even bigger weapon this year.
“My goal is that any time we cross the 50, we have a chance to score,” he said.
The longest field goal he has made in practice is 72 yards — “with strong winds,” he points out.
“I can hit 65 a little more consistently, and at 60 I can hit it with a little wind in my face. But I feel pretty confident once the ball gets to the 50,” he said.
Gay played soccer and kicked for the football team at Danville, and he expected to be a better kicker once he turned his full attention to it.
“Playing soccer, I never got to fine-tune my game. Once I got in college, I was able to focus on it, and it’s kind of blossomed,” he sad.
Gay said he’s as strong and as flexible as he has ever been, which has made his own expectations as high as everyone else’s.
“I‘ve really been hitting it hard, I’ve been kicking three times a week,” he said. “And I’ve been working with a guy in Lexington (George Barber) to try and give it all I’ve got this season.”
And Gay has his sites set on a post-college kicking career.
“Definitely. I’d be willing to go the next couple of year after college and try it out and do what it takes (to kick in the pros),” he said. “I can go to Europe, or in the Arena league. I feel like those are the minors, and you go there for a little while and develop and then they call you up.”