Ray Of Sunshine

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Florida prep WR Lance Ray (6-1, 180, 4.35), who now has his official visit to Arkansas set for Dec. 5-7. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner for details.

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When Ryan Mallett, Tyler Wilson, Nathan Dick or Jim Youngblood take over as the starting quarterback next fall for the University of Arkansas, the Razorbacks hope to have several fleet targets in which to throw the ball.

Havana (Fla.) East Gadsden High standout Lance Ray (6-1, 180, 4.34), who has an official visit to Arkansas planned for Dec. 5-7, certainly fills the bill and would join current freshmen Joe Adams and Jarius Wright and incoming talent Ricky Johnson as viable deep threats for the new signal caller.

"I ran a 4.34 in the 40 yard dash at the Alabama camp, a 4.35 at the LSU one and I've been clocked at 4.32 here at my school," Ray said. "I use to run a 4.5, but really worked hard on my speed and my strength in the offseason. Obviously my speed and my ability to get down the field to catch passes are big strengths for me."

Ray has 14 offers, including ones Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, South Carolina, Illinois, Iowa State and Central Florida to name a few.

The Sunshine State star is also drawing interest from Florida, LSU and Alabama among others.

"I really consider myself very wide open right now, but there are a lot of things I really like about Arkansas," Ray said. "Especially Coach Paul Petrino."

Paul Petrino has been the lead recruiter for the Razorbacks on Ray.

"He's probably done the best job of anybody recruiting me," Ray said. "We really have a great relationship and he's made it very clear how much they want me to get up there and be a Razorback."

Ray was originally scheduled for his official visit to Arkansas on Oct. 31-Nov. 2 - which would have coincided with the Tulsa game - but will now come in during December.

"They thought it would be better if I came in during December so they would have more time to spend with me, go over their offense and show me how important I could be in it," Ray said. "I know they like to throw the ball and have big plays and that's very interesting to me. Coach Petrino has really done a great job in telling me all about Arkansas."

"I have basically narrowed it down to Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Florida and Illinois, which is the other visit I have set up so far," Ray said. "I am going up there Nov. 15th to see their game with Ohio State."

Ray, who actually was a smallish tight end that caught 17 passes for 317 yards and 3 TDs last year for his team, has flourished in his move to wideout.

He has already amassed 25 catches this season for over 500 yards and 6 scores.

"It was just a thing last year we the best thing for us was for me to be at tight end and I enjoyed it, but I like wide receiver better," Ray said. "I had some big games earlier this season with 8 catches for 106 yards and 5 for 210 in another game.

"I haven't gotten the ball that much lately because defenses have been concentrating on me, but in one recent game, I had 3 catches for 127 yards and 3 touchdowns," Ray added.

Ray also plays defense - he had 50 tackles last season - and is getting looks by some schools as a defensive back.

"LSU and Central Florida are both looking at me as a cornerback or a safety, but most of the others are talking about wide receiver," Ray said. "It doesn't really matter too much to me although I do like catching the ball and making big plays."

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