Centre’s Jordan Gay ’13 lands free-agent contract with Carolina Panthers
May 15, 2013 By Amy Clark Wise
the Carolina Panthers. “I’m truly blessed to have this
opportunity,” he says.
With Commencement less than a week away, Centre College seniors are busy preparing their post-graduation plans. Jordan Gay ’13 is no exception. The Colonel football standout plans to cross the stage at Commencement on Sunday, May 19, with a degree in financial economics—and an opportunity to play in the NFL.
Gay’s remarkable kicking career at Centre—highlighted by a long list of national recognitions—is now capped with a free-agent contract with the Carolina Panthers. After signing with the team this week, Gay becomes the 19th player from Centre to extend their football career in the NFL. He follows members of the acclaimed “wonder team” of C6H0 fame in the 1920s and other notables in the 1930s who took Centre College to the top of the college football world.
“I’m truly blessed to have this opportunity that only a few people receive,” says Gay. “I plan on making the most out of every chance they give me.”
Gay credits the coaching staff and faculty at Centre with helping him achieve his goals, explaining they have prepared him by teaching him to “never stop improving”—both on and off the field.
“‘Pursue excellence with a vengeance’ is the motto of our team, and that is an ongoing process,” he says.
Going into the NFL draft, CBS Sports listed Gay as the 15th ranked kicker among 2013 prospects. No doubt, his stellar four-year performance at Centre caught the eye of the NFL. Holding seven school records and a collection of national distinctions, Gay earned recognition as an All-American and a three-time conference Special Teams Player of the Year during his time at Centre. He finished his senior season as the Southern Athletic Association’s first-team kicker, punter and Special Teams Player of the Year, boasting a 44.8-yard average and a long of 59 yards on 34 punts, landing seven of those inside the 20. As a kicker, Gay also made eight field goals with a school-record long of 53 and successfully completed all 32 of his extra-point attempts.
Gay earned the attention of NFL teams after a standout performance at the league’s Super Regional Combine in Dallas, Texas, in April. One month later, he was invited to a Carolina Panthers rookie mini-camp, and is now headed back to training camp with a legitimate shot at making the roster.
Centre head football coach Andy Frye finds no surprise in the fact that Gay is receiving a nod from the NFL ranks.
“Jordan worked hard to become a great kicker,” says Frye. “It was because of that hard work and determination—and also being blessed with ability—he has developed into an NFL prospect.”
He goes on to credit Gay with much of the team’s achievements this season.
“People don’t realize how much of an impact Jordan had on our team. A great deal of our success came from our kicking game. He kept us with an advantage on the field because he was such an outstanding kicker,” Frye explains.
Beyond the football program, Gay comes from a school with a strong athletic tradition across the board, celebrating well over a century’s worth of athletic accomplishments and national prominence. Centre is recognized as one of the top NCAA Division III colleges in the country, competing in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). Forty percent of the student body participates in one or more intercollegiate sports—11 for men and 12 for women.
Just this year the school claimed the first-ever President’s Trophy for the SAA, rounding out a banner year for Centre athletics. Both men’s and women’s squads sat atop the leaderboard with inaugural SAA Championships in their respective sports, including men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s swimming and diving. Several coaches were also named SAA Coach of the Year.
The Colonel’s tradition of excellence can be traced back to the College’s first period of gridiron glory with what some have called the greatest sporting upset of the 20th century—Centre’s victory over then undefeated and No. 1-ranked Harvard to win the national football championship in 1921. Several members of that team went on to play professionally, paving the way for others, such as Gay and Kris Garrett ’96, a fellow Colonel who, in the 1990s, was also invited to an NFL camp.
Coach Frye says Gay’s success is yet another chapter of accomplishment in Centre athletics’ remarkable past. His story exemplifies the school’s winning tradition and long-standing commitment to excellence, connecting the dots between athletics and academics.
“Jordan chose Centre College because of the strong academics and outcomes provided here,” he says. “He is representative of the type of dedicated student-athletes who come through our athletic program at Centre.”
Aside from his time on the football field, Gay says he has received a well-rounded educational experience at Centre, including a term studying in Israel and an internship at Farmers National Bank in Danville, Ky. His long-term goals include a career in wealth management.
“The best decision I have made so far was to come to Centre, because of the opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in the sport I love,” he says.
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Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.