5-star DE Ray Drew talks recruiting, Georgia’s poor start

Big Ray Drew of Thomas County Central has a big decision ahead as he continues to contemplate more than 50 scholarship offers. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Big Ray Drew of Thomas County Central has a big decision ahead as he continues to contemplate more than 50 scholarship offers. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Here’s what we know about Ray Drew: He’s liable to play college football anywhere.

If you think you know where he’s going to go or you know somebody who says he knows, they don’t know. I know because Drew doesn’t even know.

Drew believes there’s only one man/person/entity who does know, but He hasn’t let him know. Not yet any way.

“Each night before I lay down I pray about it,” said Drew, a licensed minister who is also a 6-foot-5, 253-pound defensive end at Thomas County Central High. “That’s how I make decisions. I just wish The Lord would just come down and say, ‘Ray, you need to go here,’ and then I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. So I just pray each night, you know, ’show me where You want me to go.’ I just don’t want to make the wrong decision. There’s just a lot to look at, a lot to take into consideration.”

Oh, you’ll find plenty of recruiting sites that want to tell you that they know Drew’s top five or top 10. Don’t buy it.

“I’m not working off a certain number right now,” Drew told me Tuesday. “Those are people making assumptions. There are some main schools that they always ask about, so that’s the schools we talk about and that’s the ones they write about. So it’s just assumptions. But it’s not like that. I’m still open to everybody.”

And when Drew says everybody, he means everybody.

The AJC Super 11 selection now has more than 50 scholarship offers. That’s what happens when ESPNU/Scouts Inc. considers you the No. 3 overall prospect in America. He’s a borderline five-star, rated among the top eight at his position by both Rivals and Scout.

Perhaps it’s his unwillingness to say no, his interest in seeing all there is to see or maybe it’s his dependence on Divine Intervention, but Drew hasn’t been able to narrow his focus very much so far. Early on he tended to mention only Southeast schools closest in proximity to Thomasville that were communicating with him most often. But his scope has broadened considerably in recent weeks and months.

Now he has an official visit set for LSU this weekend. He’s planning an early-December trip out west to UCLA with new friend Gabe Wright, a fellow defensive line prospect from Carver-Columbus. He’s talking to another recruiting pal, Stephon Tuitt, about maybe checking out Notre Dame. Michigan came up in an earlier conversation. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee remain ever-present on his radar.

And then, of course, there’s Georgia.

More than any other, speculation has attached Drew’s name to that school, which he will officially visit on Oct. 16th (Vanderbilt). That’s because he has often been quoted about his close relationship with head coach Mark Richt, with whom he regularly exchanges thoughts on Scripture.

But the Bulldogs’ 1-3 start and gossipy talk of possible coaching changes has him confused.

“I don’t know; it’s hard to say,” Drew said of his current view of UGA. “There’s really a lot to look at there. I know Coach Richt is a great coach and great guy. I don’t really care about the season, because seasons vary from year to year and one year doesn’t have that much to do with the following year. The only thing that I’m looking at right now is, how are things going to play out up there if they can’t get things rolling? You’re concerned whether some jobs may be on shaky ground or not. That’s probably my biggest thing there.

“I love the UGA coaching staff. They’re all great coaches. Coach [Mike] Bobo, he’s from Thomasville as well and I like him. But you just have to see how things are going to pan out.”

Waiting to see pretty much sums up Drew’s recruitment. If you get the idea he is deliberate in his decision-making, you’d be right. And it’s not like he’s seeking a lot of counsel.

Asked who he was leaning on for advisement, Drew sighed: “Me, myself and I.

“My parents, they don’t want to have any input on it. They say it’s my decision and they just want me to go where I’ll be happy. So other than fans telling me, ‘you need to go here; you need to go here,’ it’s up to me. This is the hardest decision that I’ve had to make in my life so far.”

So Drew aims to take his time. He said his college decision probably won’t get made until sometime around National Signing Day in February, maybe even after.

In the meantime, he’s trying to keep things simple. He’s getting treatment for a strained back, getting some tutoring for a math class and trying to get Thomas County Central to 4-1 in its Homecoming game against Northside-Columbus on Friday.

And each and every night, he prays.

178 comments Add your comment

GT9

September 29th, 2010
5:52 am

What a fantastic young athlete. Great reporting, Chip. Good luck on Friday night, Ray.

76-DAWG

September 29th, 2010
6:11 am

I hope that Drew understands that he is needed at UGA and will be very helpful in making Grantham’s 4-3 defense work and bring back the respect that other teams had for our defense.I know the coaches are an important part of a recruits life because you immediately know someone you trust and like. But the biggest support will be the student body and your team mates. The biggest question is do you want to go to school at UGA. That should be a passion of yours. I went to school at UGA because I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. And to this day never regretted that decision for a second
UGA has one of the best sports programs in the nation . If you want to go to school here why would you have any second thoughts.

Jaydawg

September 29th, 2010
6:22 am

Would like to see him in Athens but I really dont see why he would want to come right now .I dont think this coaching staff could move the chains with Peyton Manning or motivate Rosie O’Donnel to eat a Little Debbie.

Jaydawg

September 29th, 2010
6:26 am

By the way 76 DAWG we ATTEMPT to run a 3-4 not a 4-3.

German Shepherd Dawg

September 29th, 2010
6:28 am

76,

Grantham runs a 3-4 defense. WM ran the 4-3.

Drew should go to school where he wants to be for four years. As I have predicted, the Richt-bashing fair weather fans are hurting recruiting, as the story indicates.

Everybody needs to shut up and watch football, pulling for the DAWGS!

Sic em! Woof woof woof!

VA DAWG

September 29th, 2010
6:29 am

Good luck with your decision Ray. Choose the school thats best for you and your family….just hope it happens to be in Athens. We sure could use your talent next year. Richt will turn this around, so no need to worry about him being there. Best of luck. GO DAWGS!

German Shepherd Dawg

September 29th, 2010
6:30 am

One quick shameless plug for my alma mater:

No matter our record…that cheer from 80k plus enthusiastic fans is the greatest sound in the SEC.

Alabama Jack

September 29th, 2010
6:32 am

Having married the prettiest lady ever to come out of Thomasville, I wish Drew well wherever he goes. He sounds like a fine young man and a positive role model for others.

The Real SugarHillDawg

September 29th, 2010
6:36 am

He AIN’T going to UGA unless he doesn’t care if Richt isn’t going to be there and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

The Real SugarHillDawg

September 29th, 2010
6:37 am

BTW VA Dawg, you are DELUSIONAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Destin Dawg

September 29th, 2010
6:38 am

great young man… lots of opportunities for him in Athens… #1 USA college town.. Go Dawgs !!!

Bryant-Denny Stadium

September 29th, 2010
6:56 am

Ray, a 102,000 will be waiting on you to take the walk of CHAMPIONS. See you in Tuscaloosa.

Bryant-Denny Stadium

September 29th, 2010
7:04 am

So far this season, two of the top four highest-grossing college football games of the season in terms of ticket exchange at StubHub.com involve Alabama games, according to company spokesperson Liz Anderson.

Richt Might not Be There

September 29th, 2010
7:06 am

Best of luck to you Ray. Unfortunately, the staff that is recruiting you at UGA may not be there, if UGA cans Richt.

http://thesportsdebates.com/2010/09/28/the-fire-mark-richt-debate-expectations-outpace-mark-richt/

Alabama and Florida is college football's most important rivalry

September 29th, 2010
7:08 am

Florida and Alabama have become the gold standard in college football. While it doesn’t have the tradition and pageantry of Ohio-State-Michigan, OU-Texas, Georgia-Florida or even Auburn-Alabama, it is the most meaningful rivalry in college football today. Perhaps it’s because these teams don’t play each unless it’s really important. This battle isn’t for something stupid like the “Iron Skillet” or the “Old Oaken Bucket.” The winner of this bare-knuckles brawl usually gets to play for the national title.

RomeDawg

September 29th, 2010
7:08 am

Good article on a great kid.

valyboy32

September 29th, 2010
7:12 am

it s hard to see our program the way it is especailly when tony barnhart calls our program a pretnder we gotta get these top kids in our state

Top recruits flocking to Saturday’s game

September 29th, 2010
7:15 am

Football fans aren’t the only ones excited about this weekend’s matchup between No. 1 Alabama and seventh-ranked Florida. It is a game recruits have circled on their calendar for months, with many elite prospects expected to arrive from across the country.

SouthGaDawg

September 29th, 2010
7:21 am

Sounds like he’s a patient and cautious kid who isn’t trying to schedule a press conferences for his 15 minutes of fame while still in Highschool. I would love to see him at UGA, however I have to be skeptical about it. I’m from Thomasville, went to Thomas Co Central in the 80’s. There have been quite a few boys from Thomasville High who have went on to play for UGA. But for some reason UGA can’t seem to get any of the boys from Thomas Co Central to go there. Florida State, GT, South Fl and other schools have been sucessful, but not UGA.

gomdawg

September 29th, 2010
7:38 am

Ray Drew , think of only one thing , your heart knows where you are going to play football. Look forward to watch you playing next year. Go Dawgs

Randy

September 29th, 2010
7:56 am

Richt’s not going anywhere, despite the AJC polls. He has a long term contract, and he’s won 90+ games in 9 seasons. Bobo might go, but I don’t see Richt going–he’ll get it turned around. The righteous will prevail. And if Richt doesn get fired, a player could always transfer.

naganole

September 29th, 2010
7:58 am

I have to admit, I’m a good loser, but a bad winner. These UGA tears will be sweet on NSD. Also, my bud Lowndes25FSU will have a lot more swag added to his name for a couple of weeks. I’m sure he’ll come over to the good guys, much like fellow Vikings Greg Reid, Telvin Smith, Tyler Hunter, and hopefully Josh Clemons and Kenneth Durden….

Rick

September 29th, 2010
8:00 am

The thing about Richt is, he has his priorities straight. God first, family, academics, then football. God will honor a man who lives right. Richt puts the right things first, and the other things come after that. Few coaches in the SEC can say that.

9 out of 10 seaons, he’s gonna have a top 25 ranked team, 6 out of 9, gonna be a top 10 ranked team, 2 out of 9, gonna finish in the top 3 in the country. No coach in the SEC sends more guys to the NFL over the last 9 seasons, no coach has more Captains on NFL teams right now.

moops

September 29th, 2010
8:01 am

where ever he ends up, hard not to root for the kid… best of luck!

Tired of the praises

September 29th, 2010
8:06 am

Rick you forgot to mention; no other coach is 10-10 in the SEC East in the last 4 years. No other coach has lost at home to Vandy and Kentucky in the last 4 years. You have drank the entire bottle of his coolaid.

Rick

September 29th, 2010
8:11 am

Richt finished #2 in 07′ and #10 in 08′. Richt’s teams have finished in the top 5, 15 times since 1986.

layinlow

September 29th, 2010
8:18 am

I’m astounded by the stupidity of these fans who claim that we should keep our mouths shut and accept the below average coaching in athens because we might lose recruits. What good are the recruits going to do if the coaches cannot do their jobs? I obviously don’t have a short memory when it comes to some of the ballyhood recruits we have had come in the mark richt era. Stafford and Moreno were the two biggest recruits Richt ever brought in here and we won exactly 0 SEC championships. We need a change at the top if were ever going to compete for the big prize. When UF and Auburn hired Meyer and chizik, neither of those guys missed a beat at recruiting. In fact both of those guys improved recruiting. Our program need overhauling and if that means we lose a few recruits then so be it. But if we get the right guy we might just get a shot in the arm in recruiting. And lets not forget that Richt’s last class was not in the top ten.

naganole

September 29th, 2010
8:20 am

@Rick Surely you’re not including his time at FSU, since we finished in the top 5 for 14 straight seasons from 1987 – 2000…

Tired of the praises

September 29th, 2010
8:25 am

naganole, Patrick/Rick has such a man crush on Richt that he gives him credit for all of Bowden’s great years before he fell on hard times.

WinderDogg

September 29th, 2010
8:26 am

Richt has to go…If we were 4-0, Big Ray would want to come to UGA. Losing hurst recruiting…Playing for National Championships helps…ask Florida.

GT Sambo

September 29th, 2010
8:26 am

layinlow,
It would be tough to improve recruiting from where it is now for UGA. You are not ever going to be Texas, Ohio State, or USC. They have recruiting advantages that you just do not have. If you fire Mark Richt and bring in Jim Harbaugh or Chris Peterson, I think you would have to be prepared for recruiting to fall off a bit. Maybe not a lot, depending on the kind of staff those guys put together, but I think it would be difficult for those guys to replicate Mark Richt’s success at recruiting.

naganole

September 29th, 2010
8:27 am

Please tell me he also says that Richt leaving was the reason for the fall of FSU’s program. I need a laugh…

Tired of the praises

September 29th, 2010
8:31 am

He said it when Bowden was fired!!! He fell in love with Richt when he lived in South Georgia. He was so obsessed with him that his wife divorced him.

Lowndes25

September 29th, 2010
8:35 am

@naganole, still dreaming of seeing Drew in Garnett & Gold I see. Fairy tales can be a wonderful thing, except for the fact that you have to wake up from them and join the real world at some point…save yourself some heartache and wake up from this one…Drew is not going to FSU. Drew is just playing the recruiting game and tells each reporter what they want to hear (Chip included)…it is no different than what Gabe Wright is doing with his recruitment…both Gabe and Ray have no more interest in attending UCLA than you or I do, but they are going to take a free-ride out to the West Coast on UCLA’s dime and enjoy the sun for a while (can’t blame them). Gabe Wright is all Auburn (and has been for a while), and Ray Drew is all UGA (and has been for a while, and will remain that way as long as Richt and Christian Lemay go to UGA).

naganole

September 29th, 2010
8:39 am

@Lowndes25 :D Fairy tales are for kids. This “dream team’ is gonna turn out to be a nightmare for UGA…

Dawgincaorlina

September 29th, 2010
8:43 am

http://www.pricezack.wordpress.com some interesting stuff on uga football. should the AD be worried about losing a few recruits if changes are made, or should he make the changes and deal with the storm later?

Fear the Veer

September 29th, 2010
8:43 am

And there you have it…..Straight from the horse’s mouth. You fire the coaching staff at UGA, and you lose whatever chances you had at getting Drew, and probably Crowell, as well. Mr. Drew, don’t let the “lunatic fringe” UGA fans influence you. One bad year does not warrant firing a coaching staff.

Dawg Fan

September 29th, 2010
8:43 am

Sounds like a quality young man ! UGA needs men just like him to lead this team.

I wish there more guys just like him.

Lowndes25

September 29th, 2010
8:48 am

@naganole, the “Dream Team” concept is still alive and well (and was a very smart idea by our coaching staff mind you)…just wait and see who we finish our class with :) Our class is very good right now, but we are going to finish with some seriously great commitments that will make immediate impacts on our team next year. Will FSU finish with a very good class? Absolutely, but it will be minus the best player in the state of GA :)

Michael

September 29th, 2010
8:50 am

We need more players like Drew! 1-3, or 3-1, I’d be way more proud of the program if we werent hitting headlines for arrests all of the time.

I’m still proud of the players. I think the group we have is a tight knit group who is going to deal with the tough situation they are in right now. The team has a good attitude.

But something has gotta give when it comes to all of this off field madness.

naganole

September 29th, 2010
8:50 am

@Lowndes25 You’re going to love you’re new handle…

DAWG07

September 29th, 2010
8:53 am

Drew, You would be a key corne stone at UGA.

GO DAWGS!

GOD

September 29th, 2010
8:53 am

Go to Georgia , young man , and prosper

atl gator

September 29th, 2010
8:53 am

nobody cares about alabama, except people in alabama.

naganole

September 29th, 2010
8:55 am

your* Where is my spell check when I need it?

The Observer

September 29th, 2010
8:55 am

Dream team is a catchy phrase; it describes the fanbase as well.

layinlow

September 29th, 2010
8:58 am

GT Sambo, recruiting is already declining under Richt at UGA. I’m not big on recruiting class rankings anyway. I judge them based on the results on the field. The current senior and junior classes at UGA were top five classes and look at the results. The state of Georgia is ranked #4 nationally for high school football recruiting. In a football hotbed like UGA if the right coach is hired recruiting won’t miss a beat. In fact a strong argument can be made that Donnan recruited better than Richt if you base it on the end results. And those results would be- how good where the players when they reached their junior and senior year. Thats is exactly how I judge recruiting classes.

Lowndes25

September 29th, 2010
8:59 am

@naganole, we need to find a way to PM off of this site (don’t really want to list my personal email on this site)…are you a member on Rivals or Scout?

layinlow

September 29th, 2010
8:59 am

That should read- In a football hotbed like Georgia

Papa Griz

September 29th, 2010
8:59 am

UGA is the Right place for this STAR PLAYER.
God only knows that we could use some good examples around the field and campus.( never enough)
This young man fits the bill for sportsmanship,good character, and dang good player!!