A former minor league baseball player in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Ray turned down Alabama after signing with the Crimson Tide in 2008 out of high school. Making a run at playing pro baseball, Ray says his heart was always in football and that is what led him to Auburn.
"I took baseball because it was an opportunity," Ray says. "I loved it. I played it my whole life. It was the first sport I ever played, following my dad and my brother and it was something that I loved. Once I started football around 10th grade, I realized that was a sport that physically was probably better for me overall. It was something that I enjoyed doing. I felt like I was playing it because I loved it."
A four-star wide receiver out of North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee, Ray put up big numbers as he earned All-State honors. Catching 48 balls for 912 yards and 13 touchdowns, Ray was once considered an almost can't-miss prospect. Now he says he's just working to get back to that form and even better.
"I wouldn't say I'm old, but I am older," Ray says. "So maybe an adjustment that I am starting to – it's a little bit different now, not having as much energy as I did when I was 18. Watching things as simply as my diet. I can't do things that I used to do then and expect to play up to the level that I need to."
The good news for Ray is that he shouldn't have any problems getting in top shape this spring with just a handful of scholarship receivers on the roster for the Tigers. With plenty of chances to show what he can do and also to get in top form physically, Ray says he couldn't ask for a better opportunity.
"I'm sure at every position, every guy is saying that they need to be in great shape, but as a wide receiver – and I feel like as a wide receiver on any team – you need to be in top-notch shape," Ray says. "Whether you're in the best shape on the team, but you need to be in that category as one of the guys that can run all day long. That's all we do. We run. Run and block all day.
"It's an opportunity that each guy at my position has taken advantage of," Ray adds. "We're all working because we know we're going to need each other. We know we're going to need each other to show up every day, play hard, play for each other because we're Auburn. So, like I say, with it being a fast-paced offense it's actually fun."
With an opportunity to step up and grab playing time Ray says it has been a fun spring so far getting to learn Gus Malzahn's offense. He says for him and the rest of the receivers guys like Trovon Reed have been huge in helping get everyone up to speed. Now that they feel good about the offense he says the next step is to start making plays.
"Trovon Reed is a guy that's been in this before; he's a guy that's a vocal leader in our room," Ray says. "We play different positions but he came into this already having an idea of how the offense needed to be ran. From day one since the coaching staff got here they've all pressed it to us how they want it, how it's going to be, so from day one we all studied it day-in, day-out. As a whole, we've got it down pretty good. Our biggest thing is making sure we can maintain that focus when we're fatigued because a lot of times that's when things can happen."