Ray Jones Q&A

The other night Stanford fans submitted to me a batch of questions they wanted to ask Stanford RB/S commit Ray Jones. After a couple of hours of Q&A with the standout Ohio athlete, and more transcribing the exchange, here for your enjoyment is a fantastic inside look at the recruit we call "Ray Ray." Read on and get to know the future Cardinal great, his recruitment and his future.

The Bootleg's Q&A session with Ray Jones
(1/6/04)

Q:  OK, Ray, Fletch is out there trying to bring along other great recruits with him to Stanford.  Who are you working on to get to go with you to the Farm?
A:  Well I was working on CB Brandon Robinson out of Minnesota.  We both were interested in the same schools.  He and I became good friends during camp and we both took an official visit to BC before realizing Stanford was our number one choice.  Unfortunately he didn't make it academically and so that didn't work out as expected and he committed to BC.  Lately I haven't had much contact with other recruits besides the ones that have committed.

Q:  Ray, how would you characterize your recruiting experience this year.  What other schools were you considering and considering you, and what decided you on Stanford over them?
A: 
I had offers from most Big 10 schools and a lot of others back East.  I have always prided myself on being excellent academically as well as academically.  I always thought Stanford was the ultimate for both attributes, so I chose them over the others.

Q:  Ray, what position do you want to play and what position do the coaches want you to play?
A:  I want to play whatever I can play the fastest.  I have always thought playing running back in college would be the most fun and that is where they have me starting out.  They recruited me as an athlete, but I don't mind playing offense or defense.  I will start at running back because that is what I asked for, but might start faster at defensive back because of my size and speed.

Q:  Do you read the Bootboard - either the open board, or the premium (pay) board?  If so, how does the dialog here (positive or negative) affect you?
A:  I've read the regular board and the premium board.  I've noticed it to be pretty negative.  In Columbus it's different, but Ohio State fans don't have much to complain about.  The BootBoard does seem to be more of a fraternity with real dialogs, while here it's a bunch of fans who don't know each other.

Q:  Did any school try to sway your opinion of Stanford by bad-mouthing the coaching staff, system, admissions' process, telling you that you wouldn't fit in with the student body, etc?
A:  Yeah I did and won't mention names.  Like I said earlier, I had offers from some storied programs with better records and better seasons lately.  The football factory schools would make note of how I looked at academic schools.  In the beginning I looked at Ivies for example before I got my offers.  When I still looked at academic schools after getting all the offers, it didn't make sense to some coaches.  Everyone of those schools knew Stanford was my first choice, so they would compare Stanford with weak academic programs like Duke.  I knew that was just an attempt to sway me their way.  A few programs tried to make Stanford look like an academics-only school.

Q:  Would you prefer to take a redshirt year to adjust to college life on and off the field, or are you hoping to play early?
A:   I have no preference.  I have thought about it a lot and haven't decided yet.  I like the benefits of playing early and like the benefits of redshirting.  I don't have a preference either way.  It would be fun to play early if the opportunity is there; if not, I don't mind waiting my turn.

Q:  Which of our coaches (excluding Coach Fletch) did the best job recruiting you and why?
A:  Coach McCarty recruited my area so I had the most contact with him.  But during my visit, really every coach made me feel comfortable.

Q:  Is Ray coming in leaning towards a preferred field of study or will he explore his different majors in first two years?
A:  Probably explore.  I have some interests but they are scattered and random, like law and business and psychology.  My mom is a psychologist and my dad is a politician.  I'm pretty broad right now but will figure it out eventually.

Q:  Other than football, what Stanford experience do you look forward to the most?
A:  I look forward to the opportunities Stanford provides.  I look forward to the connections I will find there.  I look forward to meeting the people there who are just like me, choosing for academics and athletics.

Q:  What influence did our record over the past two years - six wins - have on your thinking?
A:  It barely effected me.  It effected me enough to think twice.  But everyone tells you to choose a school where you would happy even if you were not playing football.  I was smart enough to understand that and chose Stanford. 

Q:  How closely did he look at Stanford's current depth chart?
A:  I looked very closely.  Depth chart and playing early is not how I chose a school.  I know better than that because college football recruiting is about finding someone to replace those who were just recruited.  I looked at the depth chart and five running backs is not a lot for a college team, which works out nicely for me.  But it was not a deciding factor.

Q:  What were the surprises on his visit? In what ways was Stanford better than he had expected?
A:  The campus was the biggest surprise of my visit.  While on the campus on my visit, I felt like it was the best place in the world.  I just wished everyone back home could have come and experienced what I was experiencing.

Q:  Which football player's style of play does Ray's most resemble (on offense and defense)?
A:  On offense, I might be a little biased, but all I have to model is the Buckeyes.  I'll say Eddie George.  On defense, Mike Doss - safety for the Buckeyes a couple years back.

Q:  How did he and the coaches discuss what position he will play next year (RB or S) - how did the conversation go?
A:  I have a feeling that even though they say running back and that's what I want to play, they will play me wherever they want to play me.  When we had those conversations, the direction went wherever I wanted it to because that is their job in recruiting me.

Q:  How do our guys stack up using the eyeball test to other programs?
A:  Well, as far as skill position players go, I've never seen more skinny and skilled receivers.  I did not see a thicker running back than J.R. Lemon.  I did not see a bigger lineman than David Long.  But not that big of a difference for most guys, across the board.  Size and speed matters, but it all comes down to who can play football

Q:  When will Ray head to The Farm this summer and what are his goals between now and then?
A:  I still don't know what position I will be playing, so my weight and speed are fluctuating.  I don't know if I will run track yet this season - if so I would lose a little weight.  If I would be playing defensive back, the Stanford coaches would want me to do that.  Right now I am at 202.  I would probably lose 10 pounds or so.  If I am going to be a running back, they would probably want me to get bigger

Q:  What are Ray's current numbers: height, weight, 40, shuttle, bench press, etc?
A:  6'1" 202.  My max squat is 525.  My power clean is 300.  My bench is 325.  My 40 is 4.36 - that was my fastest.  I power lift in the winter, so you might think those lifting numbers are bogus, but I'm a pretty strong dude.  I run track in the spring.  My best time in the 100 is 10.8.  I run the 400 in the 49's.

Q:  How easy would it be to say no to Alex Fletcher?  How much contact did he have with Ray?
A:  (laughs)  It's really hard to say no to Alex.  He might as well not play and just go straight to coaching.  He's a good recruiter.  With me he probably had less influence because I always knew where I wanted to go, but with other guys he probably is having a big role.

Q:  What sort of concerns does he have about coaching changes during your Stanford career?  How did that impact his decision process?
A:  Once again, I chose my school for the right reasons, I think.  It's somewhere I'd want to be even without football.  That being said, it helps that Stanford has great coaches.  But I did not make my decision based on coaches.

Q:  What does Ray think about Stanford Stadium, if anything?
A:  I've been there a couple times and think it's classy.  I love the Russell Athletic commercial.  I have seen a lot of hostility toward the Stadium on the BootBoard.  I might be spoiled here with Ohio State and Michigan.  I think Stanford Stadium provides for a fun environment and I dig it.  I do think posters are correct in saying that people in California have a lot of things to do.

Q:  Does Ray have any family or friends currently attending Stanford or living in the Bay Area?
A:  I do have a couple friends at Stanford from my high school.  My school is pretty academic but good athletically.  There is a field hockey player by the name of Christina Williams, but she might have graduated.  Patty Zeller - also field hockey and graduated.  Maxwell Stevenson from about 10 years ago, who played football.

Q:  Are all official recruiting visits essentially the same or does Stanford have unique experiences to their official visit?
A:  Even though my reply might be a little biased to your question, I don't think any official visit in the country can compare to Stanford's.  On my visit I kept wondering how any recruit can not come to this school.  The campus is beautiful and the school speaks for itself.  As for football, it goes up and down.  And it will be back up soon.

Q:  Does Ray follow how other Stanford sports teams are performing?
A:  Yes, one thing I love about Stanford is that all of the teams do extremely well.  Coming from Ohio I can say that Stanford has a lot of respect because of its success in many sports.  I am an especially big fan of the volleyball team.

Q:  Did Ray have a golf cart guide?  Too bad he missed out on a certain volleyball player being his guide.
A:  Yes I had a golf cart ride, all the recruits had great hostesses.  It is nice to go around to different visits and compare the "recruit girls."  Yes it is unfortunate I didn't have a certain guide.  I am a big fan of the volleyball team and Logan Tom is a goddess in my eyes.

Q:  What did he think of the U.S. Army All-Star Game and could he have matched up with those kids? 
A:  I thought it was a nice combination of big time guys with guys that are still trying to get some attention.  I thought most of the big time guys were legit like Willie Williams and Adrian Peterson.  I did wonder why some of those kids were in it, but they must have been the ones needing more attention.  I felt pretty good about how I would have played in that game.

Q:  Are we supposed to call him Ray Ray or does he prefer something else?
A:  Ray Ray, Jonesy, and Ray J have been the common nicknames so far from players and coaches.  You can choose.

Q:  Does Ray have an opinion on the Maurice Clarett situation?  Does he think the NFL should let players go pro before the current rule of 3 years from HS graduation?
A:  I don't understand why the NBA allows it and the NFL does not.  I think some players indeed are NFL players to-be while in college, and that if possible they should be allowed to go pro early.  Personally I value education and character no matter how great I become so none of the fans will have to worry about that sort of situation with me.  Not all Ohio running backs that are great have attitude problems.

Q:  Has Ray been injury-free up to now in his football career?
A:  I've had a sprained ankle or two, but the rest of my body has been injury free.  Thank God

Q:  What differences does Ray see between his style and Darius Walker's, if he's familiar with DW's game? 
A:  I haven't seen Darius Walker play but hopefully he can ball.  I understand how football works as far as competition goes, and hopefully if another running back or safety commits than we both can make the program better.

Q:  What personal possession will you bring to Stanford because that item is of value to you?
A:  My state championship ring!

Q:  Does Ray J have a girlfriend?  If so, what effect if any did that have on his school choice?
A:  I don't have a particular girl.  I've tried not to get too attached throughout my senior year because I'll be leaving soon. I have found that my athletic success and high profile attained has attracted girls who see a kid with a bright future.  This has caused a problem but it is being managed.

Q:  Besides Logan Tom, which other Stanford greats would Ray like to meet?
A:  Logan Tom is above all others but next would have to be Tiger Tiger Woods y'all.

Q:  Who does he think will be our next verbal?
A:  I think we have a great class of offensive lineman, so hopefully we can get some defensive lineman.  After having a recruiting meeting with Alex Fletcher we think Pannel Egboh will commit next.

Q:  Did Ray think USC or LSU deserved the national championship?
A:  I thought USC played the best football all season long and demonstrated that they were the best program this season.

Q:  If Ray and Stanford could beat one team, which is the team that Ray would most like to play and beat?
A:  Ohio State.  Everywhere I went early in recruiting, coaches would ask if Ohio State offered and I'd always say no.  Even though I had a lot of other big time offers, coaches would always ask this because I'm from Columbus - they didn't understand that Ohio State asked me to come to camp and I turned them down because I've never been interested in the Buckeyes.  So I'd love to play Ohio State and beat them bad.

Q:  What's Ray's idea of relaxation?  Any hobbies?
A:  Well, few people know this but I am the 3rd grade national chess champion.  So chess is a big hobby of mine.  Working out is probably my biggest hobby.

Q:  Does he know that Stanford beat Ohio State the last time we played them - back in Columbus, with Elway at QB?
A:  I didn't know that, but that is the best news I've heard all day.

Q:  How many White Castle burgers can he eat?
A:  I'm not a White Castle man but I had 12 eggs for breakfast.

Q:  What reactions does he get when he tells people he's going to Stanford?
A:  Stanford has a very unparalleled image here.  Before I committed I would list the schools I was deciding between.  The most common reply was, "Man, if I you have the chance the go to Stanford you better go."  It is almost like Stanford didn't even belong in a list with any other school in the country.  Personally I get so much respect statewide for being a big time recruit who is going to less of a football factory.

Q:  Which Stanford players did he hang out with during his official visit?
A:  J.R. Lemon, Jason Evans, and some other guides that were with the other recruits.

Q:  Does he think recruits are influenced by what they read on message boards?
A:  I am not sure if many recruits read message boards.  Parents are probably more influenced but I don't know many recruits who read message boards.

Q:  Is he planning to come out for the Spring Game, or the "Admit Weekend"?
A:  I want to come out for spring practices whether is a couple days or two weeks.  I'd like to come out to admit weekend as well.  Alex and I were planning on doing some tag-team persuading this weekend but unfortunately I won't be able to make the trip.  I can't wait to get out there again though.

Q:  Where would he have attended college had he not chosen Stanford?
A:  Probably either UCLA or Notre Dame.

Q:  During his recruitment, did the staff discuss the offensive deficiencies and what they intend to improve?
A:  From meetings with Coach Teevens and Coach Moses they want to have a more threatening running game.

Q:  What type of offense is he best suited for: one-back, option, two-back, etc?
A:  I don't know for sure.  Recruit analyzers are probably better than I am at answering that but I'd say one back.

Q:  What was his most annoying recruiting moment/anecdote that he can share?
A:  A certain head football coach from a certain school kept mocking Stanford and asking me, "Why would you want to be a damn tree?"

Q:  Does Ray have a chance at being his class' valedictorian?
A:  I do have a chance, I'm sure.  But I'm at a school with a bunch of intelligent students so we'll see.

Q:  Is Ray a good blocker, pass catcher?
A:  I'm a very good pass catcher.  Our high school runs the wing-t primarily and some "I" formation.  No real one-back where I am the primary pass protector like in college but I think I'll do just fine.

Q:  Does Ray prefer the LSJUMB or the OSU marching band?
A:  I am annoyed by every note that comes out of an Ohio State instrument.  So anything else is better.

Thanks for all the questions.  And I am a people person so if you all ever get the opportunity, please introduce yourself.  It would be my pleasure.  Thanks for being so welcoming and Go Cardinal!


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