Ray Drew could not help but laugh when recounting the last few days he spent in New York City.
“You can’t describe it in words,” said the AJC Super 11 defensive end from Thomas County Central High School in Thomasville. “It was very, very exciting, which is an understatement. Here I am, this big kid from a town with one caution light, catching taxi cabs and running around in New York City. It was the experience of a lifetime!”
Drew was in the Big Apple from Sunday to Tuesday as a player representative for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. As a finalist for the prestigious all-star game’s player of the year honors, he was being whisked around by a PR firm on a media tour.
Drew and running back Demetrius Hart of Orlando went sightseeing at Rockefeller Plaza and Radio City Music Hall. They toured NBC and met Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison on the set of “Football Night in America.” They were interviewed for a segment that will air Thursday morning on ESPN’s First Take. They attended the Heisman Trophy banquet, went to a New York Jets game and toured the Jets’ facilities. They stayed at the Salisbury Hotel.
“It was very cool,” Drew said. “I told them, this is a little too much for a country boy to take. You need to build up to something like this.”
The three-day trip to New York was a whirlwind end to five straight days out of Thomasville for Drew. He spent two days in Athens on an official visit to the University of Georgia before flying out of Atlanta on Sunday.
“It went well. I really enjoyed myself up there,” Drew said. “I finally got a chance to meet some of the recruits I’d been talking to and texting on the phone but hadn’t met in person.”
Drew said he left Athens with a good feeling about the Bulldogs.
“They’re still under strong consideration,” said Drew, who is also considering Auburn, Clemson, LSU and Tennessee among his finalists. “If I had to pick one thing about Georgia, it’s not the stadium or the facilities or the school and that stuff, which is all great. It’s the people. Everybody there is so nice and so close and gets along so well. It’s the feeling you get when you’re around them.”
Drew said he also had a chance to bond with head coach Mark Richt. They went fishing together at a small pond on Saturday.
“All we caught was a cold,” he said with a laugh. “It was freezing.”
In the meantime, Drew’s recruitment continues. He said new Florida coach Will Muschamp called him while he was in New York. But he was on a set at NBC and “had to cut him short.” Drew largely dismissed the Gators after Urban Meyer resigned as head coach last week.
Auburn coaches were in to see him Wednesday. Somebody else will surely be in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well.
Drew has now taken official visits to Auburn, LSU and Georgia, so he has two left. Clemson, Florida and Tennessee are among the many schools fighting over those two spots. He said he may take them or may not. He’ll play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 8 in San Antonio.
“I haven’t really been able to think about it lately,” Drew said of recruiting. “I’m exhausted right now.”
Being a man of the world has its costs, after all.
College Recruiting By Chip Towers