When Gainesville High grad Jay Gaudlock walked off the field following Lindsey Wilson College’s 30-26 win over Saint Francis in the first round of the NAIA football playoffs last Saturday, he had no idea he’d just made school history.
It wasn’t until after the game that Blue Raiders coach Chris Oliver called him over to deliver the good news: Gaudlock had officially broken the Lindsey Wilson career reception record. His five catches against Saint Francis gave him 145 over four seasons with the team, more than any Blue Raider who has come before him.
“It means a lot to me,” Gaudlock said of the mark. “I put a lot of time and hard work and dedication into it at Lindsey Wilson.”
Despite his high volume of catches over the years with the school, none of Gaudlock’s individual receptions stand out as particularly important memories. Winning has been his primary focus, and the Blue Raiders have done plenty of that.
This year – Gaudlock’s final season of eligibility – the team is a perfect 12-0, and after a 35-24 victory over Kansas Wesleyan in the NAIA quarterfinals on Saturday, Lindsey Wilson finds itself just two games away from a national championship.
“It’s been a tremendous success,” Gaudlock said. “Just all that time and hard work I put in, I’ve seen it pay off this season.”
Gaudlock’s offseason began with individual workouts with many of his friends back in Gainesville, including a few throwing sessions with former Gainesville and Clemson QB and current starter for the Houston Texans Deshaun Watson.
But when he returned to Lindsey Wilson’s Columbia, Kentucky, campus, he quickly realized that the rest of the team had been taking
preseason preparation just as seriously. Something simply felt different from previous years.
“Just the leadership and how the leadership was changing,” he said. “It was a lot of people being more vocal than the previous seasons. It was a lot of people just trying to push everybody to be their best.”
After four wins to start the season, Gaudlock said the team’s true defining moment came in a Week 5, 58-3 victory on the road over a Bethel University team that had beaten them a year earlier by multiple scores for the Bluegrass Division title.
Gaudlock had six catches for just under 100 yards and a touchdown, and the team was officially on its way to a serious championship run.
“At that moment, I knew this was going to be a special team,” he said.
Gaudlock and the Blue Raiders will figure out exactly how special this group is in a semifinal bout next weekend and potentially a title the game the week after that would be played at Grambling State University in Louisiana.
Once his senior season is done, Gaudlock hopes to continue his football career at the professional level, but his time in Columbia has come to be about much more than athletics. Already a graduate of Lindsey Wilson, he is currently working on a masters in counseling and human development. He’s not entirely sure where he ends up, but Gaudlock is excited to have the opportunity to work with kids and “be a father figure to anybody who doesn’t have that.”
From the football field to the classroom, Gaudlock’s five years with Lindsey Wilson have provided him with success and personal development matching the work he’s put in.
“Playing at Gainesville, I was still a kid, just enjoying football,” Gaudlock said. “But playing at Lindsey Wilson has definitely developed me into a man and got me ready for the real world. There’s been a lot of different obstacles along the way, but I’ve definitely matured into the man I’ve become.”