Dray ended up loving Stanford so much, he decided to commit there during his official visit in early January after also seriously considering Notre Dame, Boston College, Tennessee, Florida State and Iowa. "I originally planned to take all of my official visits. But once I got out to Stanford and met and saw the players, I realized that I wanted to be there. Plus, once I ended up getting in there, it was kind of hard to just turn down."
Dray also had plenty to think about in terms of the new coaching staff hired on to the Cardinal after coach Buddy Teevens was fired. "When coach Teevens was fired it definitely brought them down a little, but I always had them on the backburner. Coach (Walt) Harris and the new coaching staff there had no idea that I had them as my favorite. But my high school coach really likes coach Harris and he's proved to be a good guy. He'd also been recruiting me when he was at Pittsburgh so that was a real plus for me."
It was the location, coaches and easy appeal of the Bay Area's providence that drew several outstanding recruits towards committing to Stanford. "Just being out there and with the other recruits that weekend is what also did it for me. I formed close bonds with guys like James McGillicuddy, Chris Hobbs, Will Powers, Tavita Pritchard and Kris Evans.
"My host that weekend, Alex Fletcher, was the biggest influence on me. He's from out here on the East Coast (Melville St Anthony's, N.Y.) and had offers from major programs like USC and Miami a couple years ago (Fletcher actually signed with Stanford in Feb '04) when he was being recruited. But he decided to go to Stanford and the fact that he goes there proves how good the school really is," explained Dray.
Distance played no role in this recruit's mind as he moves onward with his life across the country from his home in New Jersey. "I just can't wait to get out there. My mom's sister lives out there in San Marino (near Pasadena in southern Calif, home to USC where team-mate/linebacker Brian Cushing signed) and my dad's out that way for business at least four to five times a year. There was some pressure to stay home and be close to the family.
"My mom was really pulling for Rutgers or Boston College, but other people were telling me to try something new and forget about being around here for the next few years. I'm happy that I'll be starting something new and at this point I'm just looking to start over and meet some new people, make some good friends and go to school with some of the smartest kids in the country."
Dray had his moments of being at odds with the recruiting process, but turned his opinions of it on the dime in favor of a more philosophically grateful approach. "Sometimes during this whole process I really thought all of it was just terrible. All of the phone calls and people wanting things from you, and just having to make a decision after all of it. But I told myself to step back and think of the positives and how much better off I am than other kids in life. That just did it for me."
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