Ray A Rebel

Austin Ray, Scout.com's No. 23 nationally-rated tight end, decided to end his recruitment Wednesday, committing to Ole Miss.

After days of speculation, Columbia, Mo., tight end Austin Ray made it official Wednesday.

Ray, who is rated a three-star recruit and the No. 23 tight end nationally by Scout.com, verbally committed to Ole Miss. Ray chose the Rebels over Iowa, Kansas State, Louisville, Nebraska and Stanford -- all of which he held an offer from.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Ray becomes the eighth commitment for the recruiting class of 2012.

"After our visit, we discussed it as a family and were thinking about it. It just felt right. I felt like it was the place for me, so I just decided to go ahead and pull the trigger," Ray said, when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.

"It's very exciting, because you basically work all the way up to this point. You know, all the way from pee-wee football or whatever. You're out there competing and (the recruiting process) just gets more serious as you go on. Just all the workouts, all the practices, all the two-a-days, it's just nice to know that in the end, all of that paid off."

Ray has starred as a tight end and defensive end for three seasons at Rock Bridge Senior High School. His head coach, A.J. Ofodile, is a former tight end for Missouri, and also played seven seasons in the National Football League.

Austin Ray
File Photo
"I think he has a tremendous upside," Ofodile said of Ray. "He's a true hand-in-the-ground, attack-wide, NFL-style tight end. I think he has the frame to evenly carry 260-265 and be a real solid point-of-attack in the run game, as well as being athletic enough to still get down field and be a vertical threat in the passing game."

Ray considers himself a versatile athlete, though Ole Miss has yet to specify how they intend to use him in his freshman season. The Rebel coaching staff, he said, indicated his playing time as a true freshman all depends on his work ethic.

"They said they were excited to have me in, coming in with my body size and still being able to move around and do some of the things I do," Ray said.

"They said they like me both on and off the field. They said they enjoyed my character and how I presented myself. They felt I'd be a good fit for them."

Ofodile said Ray has all the tools to see the field early.

"He definitely will have the physical tools to get on the field early," he said. "The biggest thing is how you react to that next step up. Austin's a hard worker, he's a conscientious kid, he definitely has the physical tools to play as a freshman. But it's so hard to predict how he'll react to that next level, but without a doubt, he has the physical tools to do it."

Possibly more than anything, however, Ofodile praised Ray's character.

"He's a great character guy. He's an excellent student, he's coachable, he's conscientious," Ofodile said. "He's a great guy in the weight room and a great guy with the daily grind stuff, and that to me is usually the make or break as it relates to college success. It comes down to how you handle the tedious, daily grind type things. He's a kid that does a great job with those things."

Ray, who reported 4.64 speed, made an impression on the Ole Miss coaches when he first visited campus during Ole Miss' elite camp in June. He returned to campus last weekend for the Rebels' senior camp to get a second look, and ultimately decided Ole Miss was the place he wanted to be.

"It was just the reassuring visit," he said. "You know, just going down to check out everything for a second time and making sure it's the place I want to go, because I'll be there for four or five years. I just wanted to make sure that's somewhere I want to be for that time.

"I just felt the family behind the football team. All the coaches, they build a rapport with you. You're not just another number on the field. They're all going to know you by name. When they preach family, they mean it. They back it up."

Ray is all but done with the recruiting process, and intends on visiting Ole Miss again in the fall for a game.

"I'm pretty done with taking visits and all that. I feel that if the school's going to respect me, then I need to respect them. I haven't decided a specific game yet, but I know I want to get up there for a game day to get a feel for the atmosphere," he said.

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