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.