Ray Drew, UGA’s 5-star football recruit, recently had the opportunity to meet one of his all-time favorite country music singers.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Thomas County Central and his younger brother went to go see The Charlie Daniels Band at a Valdosta concert earlier this month. Before the show, Drew stood in line to meet the 74-year-old Daniels.
That’s when the fun began.
“There were other people in line that found out that I was going to play football at the University of Georgia,” Drew recalled with a laugh, “and they started asking me for autographs while I was waiting for Mr. Daniels.”
The singer’s handlers noticed the small crowd gathered around Drew, and learned about his background as an ordained minister and future college football player by the time Drew got to the front. Daniels signed an autograph and posed for a picture with the Drew brothers, then invited them to stand on the side of the stage while he played his set, which — of course — included “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Toward to end of the performance, Daniels leaned into the microphone and said, “It’s too often you hear about young men doing the wrong things — doing drugs, going to jail and all that kind of stuff. Well tonight, I want to introduce you to a young man who is doing it the right way.
“Ray Drew, where are you?”
The spotlight quickly flashed on Drew, who was motioned on stage by Daniels. Drew greeted his new friend with a big hug to rousing applause from the crowd. The singer told a little bit of Drew’s story, but not without some fun. “Mr. Daniels is a huge Tennessee fan, so he teased me about going to the University of Georgia,” Drew said.
After the show, Daniels invited Drew on his tour bus for a quick conversation. They talked about faith, sports, and life. The singer has recorded a handful of gospel albums. “Mr. Daniels said he was proud of the fact I was a minister,” Drew said. “He said if I was ever down and needed someone to pray with, just to give him a call.
“[Daniels] asked if he could say a prayer for me. He did, and then I said a prayer for him and his band ‘for safe travels.’ Then we left. It was a good time and lots of fun.”
Drew said Daniels is one of his country favorites, along with Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks. “I know a good bit of country; it’s some of my favorite music to listen to,” he said. “I listen to all kinds of music, except for that hardcore heavy metal where they scream into the microphone.”
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