Drew sees Carolina

Tight ends coach Jeep Hunter and the South Carolina staff played host to one of the top defensive ends in the country today when Thomas County Central (Thomasville, Ga.) four-star prospect Ray Drew and his family stopped by. Look inside as GamecockAnthem.com has the full report.

With almost exactly 10 months until National Signing Day 2011, Thomas County Central (Thomasville, Ga.) four-star defensive end Ray Drew says that it's time to start getting serious about the recruiting process.

Many schools in the country are already serious about Drew as the 6-5, 248-pound prospect already has offers from 23 top programs, including every school in the SEC, plus Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Florida State, East Carolina, North Carolina, North Carolina State and several others.

Drew and has family decided to use this week to knock out multiple schools on the list of programs they wanted to see in a road trip that features stops at South Carolina, Clemson on Wednesday, Tennessee on Thursday and Auburn Friday.

Drew, his parents and his brother started off the road trip with the six hour drive to Columbia last night, and after a full night's rest took a nine-hour unofficial visit to the South Carolina campus today.

"Great school all together," Drew said of the trip. "They have good facilities and everything that they're working on and they're actually looking at adding more on. Coach Spurrier -- he's a great guy [with a] great coaching staff. I got the chance to get a lot of my questions answered; it was just a great trip all around."

Drew explained some of the things that stood out to him on the trip.

"The family atmosphere," he said. "The teammates and how they got along would probably be one thing [that stood out]. Also, the location -- it's in somewhat of a big city, with a small town feel. And it's away from home, but not too far away from home."

Drew is being recruited by South Carolina tight ends coach Jeep Hunter.

"He was the one I spent most of my time with while I was up there," Drew says. "He actually showed us where a great hotel was. He recommended it to us, and we actually ended up staying at a great hotel. He hosted us wherever we went and he went on the campus tour with us."

Drew gave his thoughts on the campus in comparison with some of the other top programs he has visited.

"Overall it's a great campus," he said. "It's up there with a lot of other ones. Georgia has a great campus too. South Carolina has a great campus. Florida has a great campus -- so does Alabama. They're all similar in that they all have their ups and their downs, but they all have great facilities."

One facility at South Carolina Drew was particularly impressed with was the new Dodie Anderson Academic Center.

"It was great," he said. "It's probably one of the best or is probably the best campus facility on campus now. If you were going to go and study that would probably be somewhere you would want to do it at."

Another coach who is involved with Drew is defensive line coach Brad Lawing. Drew was able to spend plenty of time with the veteran coach at the Gamecocks' practice this afternoon.

"I got the chance to follow them around at practice today. (Lawing) kept joking with me, saying 'alright well, you're next, you're next.' And I was like, 'well alright let me get my stuff.'"

But the process of actually deciding where he'll take his "stuff" is far from being over, and Drew says not to expect a decision anytime soon.

"I had always wanted to be a late commit, so probably National Signing Day would be a big possibility. But I'm going to play it by ear and if things get too aggravating, and I know a place in my mind and in my heart know that's where I'm supposed to be, I would go ahead and commit when I knew it was the right time.

"I don't plan to commit any time soon, but I do plan to sit down with my parents and narrow it down and call the coaches and let all of them know whether they're still in the running or not, because I know it costs money to recruit, and I don't want to keep them out there trying to get in with me when they don't have a shot."

But as of right now, Drew says it's just too early to start naming any favorites.

"No, not right now, because I haven't had the chance to get out to a whole lot of places," he says. "I'm just going to take this trip and start looking at the stuff, because I only have a year left and I know this year is going to go by quick, so I really have to start getting serious about things."

Drew will evaluate every element of the schools he's looking at as he narrows his list down. He gave his breakdown of the trip to Columbia.

"On a scale of one to ten," he said, "looking at it in the different parts, I would say from the athletic part it was a seven. Hospitality from the coaches and players I would say probably a eight or nine. All over it was probably about a seven."

A big step in the process will be deciding where he will take official visits to.

"I have two in mind. I don't have all five, but I do have at least two that I know I want to go to."

He admits that he's going to play things close to the vest, and doesn't yet want to give away who the two schools are. So what are the Gamecocks' chance of making that cut for an official visit?

"Let me see, how would I put it, I don't want to say exactly or say the wrong thing. I'm trying to choose my words wisely here. But I would like to get back there. If time permits and finances allow, whenever I have free time I plan to be back."

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