Jay moves to center, third spot in order

In any athletic program, individual growth is usually indicative of a successful team. Miami baseball outfielder Jon Jay has experienced such growth and become one of the team’s strongest leaders and gained national notoriety.

Jay begins the 2006 season with a number of accolades, including being named to the Brooks Wallace Award Preseason Watch list, as well as a second team All-American nod.

The coaching staff has high expectations for Jay as well, both on and off the field. Jay will have to guide his younger and somewhat less experienced teammates. Additionally, his role on the field will be slightly modified from 2005.

“He’s going to hit third for us in the lineup. I want him to keep doing what he does for us,” said Gino DiMare, outfield and hitting coach. “He’s going to play centerfield, which is a little different than what he is used to. I think he’ll do a great job as a leader there helping out the guys on each side.”

Jay said he set several personal goals for the season, including getting his team to the College World Series.

“My first goal this season is to get my team back to Omaha,” Jay said. “We didn’t get to go last season and we had a great time there my freshman year. I hope to get back there and win some games and a national championship because that is why I came to this school.”

As a freshman, Jay was quiet but made his statement on the field and left a record that can be compared to only few UM players. The stats he racked up as a newcomer were just a glimpse of Jay’s continuing success. Since then, he has become more of a leader off the field to his teammates.

“Jay’s a pretty quiet guy, but each year he’s become more vocal and he is without a doubt a leader of our offense,” DiMare said.

Jay spent the summer traveling with the U.S. national team, where he gained a new perspective on the game.

“I got to go to Japan and Taiwan and got to see how different things are from [the U.S.]. I just came back here trying to help my teammates this season,” Jay said.

As an athlete, Jay is constantly improving and doesn’t take a day off.

“His hitting is probably the most obvious thing that stands out about him. Jon just does everything right; it’s not just his hitting,” DiMare said. “He is the easiest guy to coach. I work with him in the outfield and he’s the guy you never have to tell to do things over again.”

Despite losing a number of key players after the 2005 season, Jay said the ‘Canes are confident they will continue their tradition of excellence.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Jay said. “Everyone thinks we’re real young and we’re not going to be good. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder and we want to prove them wrong.”

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at s.arnold@umiami.edu.