By Jeff Ireland
J.T. May grew six inches between his eighth grade and freshman years and became a defensive force to be reckoned with during his three-year football career at Tipton-Rosemark.
Multiple colleges recruited the 6-5, 250-pound defensive end, including Murray State, Austin Peay, UT-Martin and Southern Illinois.
Last December he took an official visit to Samford University in Homewood, Ala. and he verbally committed to the school before he came home.
Last Friday, in front of friends, teammates, family members and coaches, May made his commitment official when he signed scholarship papers with Samford. He’s the first TRA football player to sign with a Division I school.
He said the educational programs at Samford were a big selling point as well as the fact the school has produced multiple NFL players.
“The biggest thing he has is what we call great get off on the ball,” said new TRA head coach Shannon O’Brien, who was May’s defensive coordinator earlier in his career. “When that ball is snapped, he’s very, very good at getting up the field. He’s got great strength in his hands to defeat blocks. That’s really a big asset for him, and of course his size.”
When asked what he learned at TRA and what it meant to him to become Rosemark’s first D-I player, May said, “It wasn’t all me. My teammates and coaches helped me get there … I learned about playing through pain, hard work, being on time and holding yourself accountable.”
May said he expects to play primarily defensive end at Samford. He played multiple defensive positions at TRA and even played some running back.
TRA fans should get a chance to see May on television next fall. Samford plays at Florida State on Sept. 12.
O’Brien believes May will fit in perfectly at his new school.
“Him growing and spending time in the weight room like he did, those were the big things that helped him more than anything,” O’Brien said. “I think he’ll be a very good player in the Southern Conference, where Samford is. This is really a perfect fit for him. I know that Samford was really excited to get him. They stayed on him the whole way. I think it will be a great fit for them as well.”