Jay Avery & Houston? Alabama Jumper Thinks Its A Perfect Fit

* Hoover senior Jay Avery is one of the nation's top jumpers in 2023

Photo Credit: Shanna Monay

By Tim Casey - MileSplit Recruiting Reporter

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Since September, Jay Avery has spoken on the telephone and exchanged text messages on a regular basis with University of Houston head track coach Carl Lewis.

Avery, a senior at Hoover (AL) High School and one of the U.S.'s top high school jumpers, has heard all about Lewis, the four-time Olympic gold medalist in the long jump.

Now, Avery plans on getting to know Lewis much better as he expects to sign with Houston.

Avery, MileSplit's No. 27 boys recruit in the Class of 2023, considered Georgia, LSU, Alabama and other schools. But after taking his first official visit to Houston last week, he doesn't plan on taking more trips.

 "I'm kind of settled down on just Houston," Avery said. "I'm looking forward to commit and sign very soon."

 That is welcome news to Lewis.

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"He's really excited," Avery said of Lewis. "I was pretty much one of the top recruits on his board. He recruited me pretty heavily, kept in contact, talked to my parents. My family loved him. We just loved talking to him."

Avery remembers a few months ago talking with his parents and mentioning he just got off the phone with Lewis.

"When I told them I was talking to Carl Lewis, they were like, 'The Carl Lewis?,'" Avery said. "I was like, 'Yeah.' They were just saying he was pretty big when they were younger."

Lewis, in fact, is arguably the greatest track star in U.S. history.

Over four Olympics, Lewis won nine gold medals, the most of any American track athlete. He won four golds at the 1984 Olympics in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay; won the 100m and long jump at the 1988 Olympics; won the long jump and 4x100m relay at the 1992 Olympics; and won the long jump at the 1996 Olympics.

 "I'm kind of settled down on just Houston. I'm looking forward to commit and sign very soon."

Lewis, who competed at Houston in the late 1970s and early 1980s, returned to the school in 2014 as a full-time assistant coach. He was named head coach in July, replacing Leroy Burrell, who left to become Auburn's head coach. Burrell is a also former Houston track star who once held the world record in the 100m. 

Avery should benefit from working with Lewis and continue to show progress.

At the Alabama state Class 7A indoor meet as a junior last year, Avery won the long jump (22-00.25) and triple jump (48-08.75) and finished second in the high jump (6-4). Those marks earmarked him as (arguably) the top combined jumper in the U.S.

During the outdoor season, he won the triple jump (wind-aided 49-1.5), finished second in the long jump (23-1) and placed fourth in the high jump (6-2).

Avery also was 12th in the triple jump (44-9) at New Balance Nationals Indoor and sixth in the long jump (22-11.25) at Nike Outdoor Nationals. In college, Avery said he will stop high jumping and will concentrate on the long jump and triple jump.

"I feel like I'm best at triple jump," Avery said. "That's my favorite one."

This fall, Avery played free safety on Hoover's varsity football team as well, earning a second-team All-State selection in the process. He considered playing college football, but that changed during his junior year when he decided that he would only focus on track in college.

"I feel more passionate about track," Avery said. "I really didn't like practicing for football anymore. I enjoyed the games, but I didn't love it like I did with track."

Avery has only competed in one track meet this season, finishing first in the long jump (21-9) and the triple jump (45-8.25) at the Magic City Invitational meet in Birmingham on Dec. 3, shortly after football season ended.

Since then, Avery has taken time off to recover from a stress fracture in his lower back that he sustained during football season and aggravated early in the track season.

Still, he expects to be back later this month or in early February and will compete at New Balance Nationals Indoor or Nike Indoor Nationals in March. 

For this year, Avery said, he has goals of reaching at least 25 feet in the long jump and 51 feet in the triple jump, both of which Hoover coach Chris Schmidt views as realistic.

Schmidt also envisions Avery continuing to excel in college, where he will be able to concentrate on track full-time for the first time. During high school, Avery participated in football for several months each year, limiting his track workouts.

"For him to have the opportunity to be with a college coach year-round on the track, he could do amazing things," Schmidt said.

Photo Credit: Shanna Monay