A very intriguing story to follow this fall will be the transfer of Melvin Ray from Chiles to North Florida Christian School. Leaving a lethal offense at Chiles, which consisted of Ray and wide receiver prospect Daniel Bryant, he moves to a school a mere seven miles down the road. After growing up in Georgia as a child and then moving to Tallahassee, it may surprise you how much he has fallen in love with the Gators.
As a freshman, Ray had basketball only on his mind at Tallahassee Godby but then he transferred into Chiles as a sophomore and that’s when the transformation to a polished, explosive wide receiver began to take place. He developed from a sophomore playing football for the first time and trying to learn the ropes to a junior that caught 36 passes for 518 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned one kickoff and two punts for touchdowns.
Ray hasn’t only grown as a football player. He’s grown physically. He’s 6-4, 204 pounds now and football has surpassed basketball as the sporting love of his life. Now he’s taken that passion for football to a new school. He’s at North Florida Christian where his coach is former FSU quarterback Casey Weldon. He had a good first spring and feels he will be able to contribute in the fall.
“We finished spring football last Thursday,” Ray said. “It went real good, even though I didn’t play in the spring game because of my transfer situation. I still got to practice and learn the offense. I already knew the whole team because I grew up with most of them, so that hasn’t been an issue.
“I’m from Georgia originally, but in middle school my family moved to Tallahassee. I’ve grown up with a lot of the North Florida Christian guys. We’ve played together since travel baseball and basketball.”
As he continues to adjust to the challenges presented by learning a brand new offense, college coaches aren’t making it very easy for him. Being such a high profile recruit, his phone is receiving texts at an intense pace.
“I’m getting so many texts every day, so it’s starting to get a little stressful,” Ray said. “Its part of the process though, so you’ve got to be mature about it.”
Even with the stress and confusion most high school recruits deal with, Ray has managed to eliminate some stress by narrowing his interest down to five schools, filled with SEC and ACC powerhouses.
“I’ve got it narrowed down to five schools right now,” Ray said. “My top five is LSU, FSU, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.”
Don’t think that the Tallahassee (FL) prospect has just randomly picked some teams he liked. He already has a very distinct knowledge of each team in which he maintains a serious interest.
LSU: “What receiver doesn’t want to go there? They always have some of the best wide receivers in the nation. In my opinion they had two of the best receivers in the nation last year. I also really like their weight room too.”
FLORIDA STATE: “They’re pushing me to come there. Everyone here in Tallahassee is. Every ten minutes I hear someone telling me to go to FSU. It’s just one of those things where you have to make your own decision though.”
FLORIDA: “I’ve been there four times and there’s a reason I keep going back. Florida is Florida. They are top notch in everything they do. The facilities are all very nice. Everyone there treats you as a great person. You don’t get tired of visiting and that’s why I continue to go back.”
GEORGIA: “I’m originally from Carroll County, Georgia which is just about 30 minutes away from Athens. I’ve grown up a Georgia fan. I’ve always loved their football team so finally being recruited by them and offered is great. I’m anxious to get up there and see what they have going on.”
ALABAMA: “I went there last summer and saw the Bear Bryant museum. They have a great history and everything there was great. I got to go to their spring game this year too. Obviously there were 92,000 people there, and it doesn’t get much better than that. They all love football and it’s a great place to be.”
The interest is mutual with these five schools, as four of them have offered, and the other showing a strong interest.
“All of my top five have offered except Florida,” Ray said. “They all love me at Florida though. I’ve been told that if I want to go there, not having an offer won’t be a problem. I’ve been verbally offered, but I just don’t count my offers until they come in the mail. I talk to Coach G (Billy Gonzales) more than any other coach in the nation. I also talk to Coach (Urban) Meyer once or twice a week. We have a really good relationship.”
“Coach G always says he wants me to make sure I stay on top of my grades and my senior year to make sure everything is where it needs to be if I make my choice and decide to attend Florida, which is definitely a big chance right now. They always tell me I have the chance to come whenever I want.”
Arguably the most important recruiting tool for the Florida coaching staff is the Friday Night Lights camp that takes place during the middle of summer. Ray has decided that he will attend and he’s looking forward to competing against some of the best competition in the nation.
“They mentioned it to me and always make sure that I’m coming,” Ray said. “Just a few days ago I confirmed that I would be there. It’s going to be a lot of fun with some top competition. I’m excited to play under the lights in The Swamp. I’ve seen it plenty of times, but now I get a chance to compete on that field.”
With still so much ability to be coached at the next level, Ray understands very well the type of receiver he is at this point. With the great coaching from a wide receivers coach such as Billy Gonzales, the sky is the limit.
“I’ve been told a lot that players think I’m always going down the field and jumping over them or overpowering them, which is what I do, but I’m still a very fast guy,” Ray said. “Even though I’m clocked at a 4.51, any coach will tell you I am faster on the field. I use my speed and quickness to make guys miss all day long.”
With the stress level beginning to get old for Ray, he says he would like to get his decision out of the way during the early part of his senior season. Even then, he wants to make sure it is right and that he has no thoughts of de-committing.
“I would want to make my choice throughout football season or early in it to get stress off me,” Ray said. “I want to make sure I’m comfortable though. I may just want to lay back and have fun on these official visits. I don’t want to make an early choice and in the end not actually want to go there.”
The requirements for the school of choice are pretty simple for Ray: education and relationships. He thinks that his top five are all similar in this area and believes that they are all about even right now.
“I think I did a good job picking my top five schools,” Ray said. “They’re all great schools with great things about all of them. No matter what, my parents and I want to make sure I get my degree. Other than that, I want great relationships with coaches and other players. I’m a laid back person, so I look forward to hanging out with coaches and players on and off the field. I want a place that prepares me for the NFL.”