If you’re not first, you’re last.
For some, those are words to live by. In the world of college football recruiting, being the first program to express interest in a prep player can leave a lasting impression.
Some suggested Max Wray soured on the Tennessee Volunteers because the staff wasn’t quick enough to offer the Franklin (Tenn.) High School offensive tackle. If true, that mistake certainly won’t be repeated by his brother, Jake Wray, who has a scholarship offer from the Big Orange after just one season on the prep level.
Tennessee hosted Jake Wray for a junior day in February and got him in front of of offensive coordinator Larry Scott as well as offensive line coach Walt Wells.
“It was just a really fun visit that I had,” Wray told InsideTennessee. “I felt comfortable here. All the coaches are very welcoming. They showed me around. I really liked what I saw today. It was really fun.
“I felt a sense of comfortability; I was very comfortable. Obviously they’ve got new hires with coach Scott and coach Wells. I like both those hires a lot. It was kind of just a sense of we’re starting a relationship that we’re going to develop and it’s going to be a good relationship. I believe that it will be.
“I like (Scott’s) energy a lot. I like his energy and his willingness to make this team better. He really knows what he’s talking about; I know that for sure. But I really like his energy. He brings a sort of, you know, ‘Let’s go get this. We can get this done right now. I know we can.’ I really like that about him.”
Wells was on the Vols’ staff last season as a quality control coach for the offensive front and earned a promotion to offensive line coach.
“I talked to coach Wells,” Wray said. “I’ve known him for awhile. I came up for the Tennessee-Missouri game and that’s when he really started talking to me. I got an offer actually after that day. We’ve had a pretty good relationship. I really like coach Wells.”
The Class of 2020 talent, who’s quite comfortable already with a microphone in his face, plans to give the Orange & White every chance to recruit him even though his brother is bound for Southeastern Conference rival Georgia.
“This is really all just to get…if I have a better understanding of the school, then I’ll have a better understanding if I want to go there,” Wray said. “So obviously I’ll be coming back here (to Tennessee), I’ll be going to other schools many other times. I won’t be committing any time soon. I’m really just laying back. I don’t even know when I’m going to commit.”
The 6-4 ½, 290-pounder, whose most recent offers are from LSU, Miami (Fla.) and Oregon, maintains that he and his brother have an understanding with the freshman’s approach to finding his collegiate home.
“He was on his way to Athens,” Wray said of his brother. “He was like, ‘You know what, it’s OK. I’ve still got a couple more years to recruit you.’ He’s going to let me go where I want to go.
“It would definitely be really, really cool for us to play together in college. We’re going to play together in high school next year, but he said and I think he’s fine if where I want to go is not where he’s going. So it’s really whatever is best for me.”
The Williamson County native plans to take his time with his recruitment, which is dissimilar to his brother, who committed to the Bulldogs during the spring of his sophomore year.
“It’s really all too early,” Jake Wray said. “I’m kind of just enjoying the process, laying back. It’s not really that I have top teams. It’s kind of I’m exploring my options. I’m willing to go wherever I have to go. So if that’s on the other side of the country or if that’s right at home, I’ll go there.”
The offensive tackle has a gameplan for how he’s going to pick a college program.
“Obviously coaching staff,” he said. “I really care about the coaching staff, if they’re the right coaches for me. The right major, if it’s got a really good business school. I want to major in Business. Atmosphere. And if the players like playing for the coaches — that’s a big part for me.”
Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott