By PATRICK MacCOON
While Jay Person said he's enjoyed his fall break taking a bit of a load off by going fishing, Bradley Central’s ‘Bust Face’ linebacker has become a bigger catch for an FBS college football …
While Jay Person said he's enjoyed his fall break taking a bit of a load off by going fishing, Bradley Central’s ‘Bust Face’ linebacker has become a bigger catch for an FBS college football program.
The 6-foot-3, 208-pound linebacker plans to write his next chapter at Appalachian State University, in Boone, N.C.
The reigning Sun Belt Conference champions, who gave the Tennessee Volunteers an overtime scare in a 10-win 2016 campaign, were Person’s final choice over Mississippi State.
“They have been reaching out to me almost every day asking questions about me and trying to get me to come,” Person said. “I can see their program is on the come up, and I want to be a part of it. I made up my mind on where I want to go, and that’s a good thing.”
The appeal of the Black and Gold is impossible for the hard hitter not to love, after wearing it for the past four seasons as well as for the foreseeable future.
His future linebackers coach even comes from the same prep background in Bradley Central graduate and former Tennessee Volunteer Dale Jones.
“Coach Floyd has a relationship with Coach Jones and he is actually my teammate Jake Presley’s uncle,” Person said. “It’s going to be fun playing for someone who knows where I came from and can help me chase greatness in my craft.”
Ever since Person’s sophomore season he has been often tabbed as the best defensive football player on the field on any given night, as he exhibits awareness, quickness (4.6 40), power and leadership.
The highest-rated recruit in the Mountaineers' class of 2018, which now stands at 22 recruits, has 219 tackles (44 tackles for loss), 17 sacks and seven forced turnovers in his past 30 games.
Person is tabbed as a 3-star recruit with a composite score of .8255 by 247Sports.
With a love for gunning off the edge and chasing down the quarterback similar to the Atlanta Falcons’ Vic Beasley, weight-gain will be a major focus for Person who will join a program losing a pair of perennial all-conference linebackers after this season.
“The coaches told me I could come in and play early if I work hard enough on my body in the weight room,” said Person, who hopes to weigh 225 to 230 pounds by the time he hits the college gridiron on Saturday’s. “They want me to be an edge rusher at linebacker, and that’s where I am really comfortable.”
Person has been on a tear this season working on the outside as a pass rusher and also in the middle of the field when needed.
Through a 6-1 (3-0 Region 2-6A) start for the seventh-ranked Bears, he leads the team with 56 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles. He is tied for first with two turnovers and five pass breakups.
Last Friday, Person helped Bradley overcome a 28-13 halftime deficit as he recorded 11 tackles and led a second-half shutout of Soddy-Daisy in a 38-28 road victory.
With strong hopes for a deep postseason run, the dynamic force will be well on his way to surpassing career-high season marks in tackles (92) and sacks (9).
“Our defense is capable of being lights out,” said Person of the Bears defense that has allowed 19.8 points per game. “We feel like we can be lockdown every game like we were in the second half against Soddy.”
In a tie atop the region with Maryville with three regular season games remaining, Bradley will cherish and continue to unleash its unique defensive game changer, a standout who received more than 20 scholarship offers.
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