Level-headed DE Ray Drew doesn’t have time for UF

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — In a system that feeds on immaturity, Ray Drew is one of those rare voices of reason.

The Thomasville, Ga., Thomas County defensive end isn’t rushing the recruiting process and he doesn’t have time for silly recruiting games.

You won’t see him committing to multiple schools and you won’t see an extravagant commitment ceremony. Drew just wants to find the right place for him and settle in.

Right now, the four-star prospect has Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and Clemson as his finalists. One of those schools will get his services, but not after he does some thorough research and thinking.

“You can’t go to your favorite team if it doesn’t feel like it’s the place for you,” Drew said. “You may go somewhere and you can hate it because you chose your favorite team and not the best fit for you.”

Right now, there are three key factors to Drew’s recruitment — academics, finding a place that feels like home and playing time.

Drew, who has been mentored by former NFL defensive lineman Michael Strahan, said he wants to have the educational background to succeed in life after football. Drew also isn’t looking to start right away, but wants to go somewhere that offers a chance to play early.

For a while, it seemed as though Florida was a legitimate option for Drew. He had developed a solid relationship with tight ends coach Brian White, but after the resignation of Urban Meyer and the massive staff changes, Drew dropped the Gators from consideration.

Even with White remaining on staff, having less than a month to get to know new coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Dan Quinn, Drew said there doesn’t seem to be enough time to really get to know Florida’s new coaches.

“I love Coach White as a person,” he said. “And whenever he came down the last time I was straight up with him and I let him know, ‘I love you, I have nothing against you, but whenever I get to the University of Florida, if that’s where I choose where I’ll be, you’re not going to be coaching. I need to know who’s going to be coaching me, who am I going to be around.’

“I just ask that the coaches understand your position. Although they want you to come and play at their school and it’s a business thing for them, it’s also a business decision for us as well.”

As a defensive player, Drew said his priority is to develop relationships with four people — the head coach, defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and the strength and conditioning coach. He felt he didn’t get to do that with Florida and the Gators’ chances began to decrease when defensive line coach Dan McCarney took the North Texas job. Plus, Drew said he never really had much of a relationship with strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti.

“You really don’t know what to expect from the program or what to expect from those people in this short period of time,” Drew said.

The school looking good for Drew right now is Georgia. The Bulldogs’ coaching staff is trying to assemble what could be known as the “Dream Team” — a collection of the top players in Georgia who all have UGA as one of their top schools. The chance to play with such a special group is something Drew said he’s seriously considering.

“There’s a lot of talent in Georgia,” he said. “If things were to work out the way Coach (Mark) Richt and his staff wanted them to, I could see Georgia being pretty good.”

Still, Drew currently has no school ahead of another. He’s doesn’t think he’ll name a leader until he makes his final decision.

“I don’t want to name any favorites because I don’t want that clouding my judgement,” he said.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Doesn’t he realize the Mark Richt is on his way out the door! He will have less time or he may be there a year and end up with all new coaches and that’s the worse case scenario, cause he is there!

  2. I’m ok with it. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, if he doesn’t feel right with Florida, then don’t come. And Georgia would be crazy to fire Richt – don’t see that happening. Georgia will be fine except for the annual loss in the last weekend of October.

  3. These guys are young. Think about how many SEC coaches have been at the same school the last 17-18 years. Mark Richt is under tremendous pressure at UGA. One more lacklustre seasons in 2011 and either he’ll be bought out and there will be wholesale staff changes or Richt will once more gut his current staff and replace coaches to save his job. Same for Clemson with Dabo Swinney. It’s more likely Ray Drew and other primetimers will find coaching stability with Florida, where former D-line stand-out coach Muschamp is just embarking on a long run as UF head ball coach. Whether Drew comes or not, I’ll bet Muschamp is at UF longer than the current head coaches remain at Georgia, Clemson or even Auburn. What do you think?

  4. I believe that Mark is on the way out, Geogia is not going to turn it around next year. Mark is just like B Bowden was, just hanging around. He has reached his potential at Ga. and can really offer them nothing new or exciting. He’s done, hes ready for Ga. Southen now. Same with Daboo Sweeney at Clemson, all the talent that goes through Clemson and they struggle every year just to compete not to be elite. Look at the kids from Florida that ha gone there in the last 5 years, great athletes some of the best the state had to offer but they haven’t even won an ACC title yet. Think again kids before going to Clemson and Ga. they are dead ends. At FLORIDA, you get the championship and a heads-up on making it to the next level, especially now with coaches that have coached on that level and have the ear of people on that level to say hey take a good look at this kid he’s NFL material and know what they are talking about.

  5. Ed, trying to understand why this article is suppose to interest gator fans. All we needed to know is that he is not interested in being a florida gator and on to the next four star recruit. He is entitled to not choosing the gator because of the coaching overhaul but dont place him on a pedestal or make it seem as though florida is trying to pull one over on him. bottomline is the gators will be fine with or without the young man..

  6. If academics were really a top priority of his, he would come to UF over FSU, Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia, or Auburn. The only one that is even close is Georgia, and they’re really not that close.

    Nope, he’s giving lip service to “academics” because he knows that’s what people want to hear. FSU, seriously, they are easier to get into now than UCF!

  7. I like the kid’s attitude that he isn;t playing games or taking anyone for a ride. It demonostrates maturity IMO and I apprecaite that. Interesting that he believes academics are most important but he has FSU favored over UF, who is a higher-rated academics school? Regardless, it’s recruiting, and you can’t get them all.

  8. First let me say, Ed love your work…that said, why write and article on a kid who doesn’t have UF in it’s top 5…just asking….BTW, there’s an old Hawaiian saying, “If you ain’t a Gator, you are Gatorbait!

  9. Agree with Corey… if academics was a serious priority (unless he wants to act or be a clown in a circus), UF over all those schools.
    I do believe he is seriously getting to know the staffs (which currently hurts UF if you’re a DL) because he’s buying the smoke coming from UGA. As a gator, it will be a sad day when Richt gets fired (much like when Ray Goff lost his job), but that day is coming Mr. Level-Headed Drew.

  10. @junior..I like that saying, sir. it always rings true. With the teams he mention above, we will see him down the line, IF he can hack it at this level. Thats the one thing that gets me, these kids get labeled and ranked every year which opens up doors for them, then most of them think thats enough to exceed at the D1 level. They fail to realize that the ranking and label is potential only and they have to bust their butts to acheive the athletic and academic part of it.

  11. Just covering all-star practices and writing about interesting kids. He liked Florida and then dropped the Gators. Nothing wrong with adding a little variety. Not everyone is going to go to UF. Guess you guys won’t like my story on Wayne Lyons who picked Stanford but started off having UF as his favorite … Kid started a virtual book club to encourage reading at his school and was No.1 in his high school class. I think it’s an interesting story.

  12. Ed,

    Good article for me. No issue with reading about others that had initial interest in UF, but now who we’ll see lining up across our boys down the road. Variety is good! Besides, if you aren’t irritating somebody than you’re either a homer or your writing sucks.

  13. Another example of recruit doubletalk. He says academics are important but none of the schools on his list compare to UF.
    He says he wants to throughly research and investigate these schools before making a decision but he “doesn’t have time to get to know the Florida coaches.”
    He wants a school with a stable coaching staff (if there is such a thing) yet he has Georgia and their embattled coach at the top of his list.
    Next he will say he wants to major in something specific and then he will select a school that doesn’t even offer that program.
    Whatever Ray Drew, just pick a school and stop with the babble.

  14. @Ed, no issues with you writing about interesting kids just want the gators to be seriously in the running for him. I feel like this, after I read your article on a recruit you wrote about, i should want to now hit Rivalsfor his ranking, you tube for his highlights, and beleive it or not, google, for any derogatory fact about his past. thats how i learn about the players we be watching for the next 3-4-5 years. You articles are great, dont get me wrong, but at this point in the recruit game, i need to know who is seriously considering the Mighty Gators. this would have been a great October article not Jan. take care and Go Gators.

  15. Thanks for clearing that up Scooterp. I thought I was being recruited.
    My point is that I place very little value on what recruits say regarding why they choose a certain school. Having followed this stuff for many, many, years I could list hundreds of examples where these kids say things only to contradict their words with their decision.Example: Will Witherspoon – “I am only looking at schools with engineering programs because that is what I want to pursue.” Two weeks later he selects UGA. UGA does not have an engineering dept.
    Pick a school and get on with it is all I am saying.

    FYI, I am not wearing goggles, I will leave that to the terps.

  16. It is understandable that he wants to be somewhere that he has gotten to know the coaching staff and it is nice to see a kid who isn’t focused totally on the spotlight. I do see real concern though with Mark Richt’s job security in Athens regardless of Academics.
    2011 US News and World Report Rankings
    UF: 53
    UGA: 56
    Clemson: 64

    not a huge difference with any of the academics between these schools, it just varies depending on the individual major.