Three-star 2017 Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon offensive tackle Kanan Ray is not completely new to the recruiting process, as he has had a Washington State offer in his possession since the fall, but the last six days have accelerated the process in a major way, with offers coming in from a host of new programs.
"It's been crazy," Ray said. "In a matter of five or six days I've gotten like six offers. It's been a blessing. Overwhelming at times, but definitely a blessing."
To add to the Washington State offer, Ray now has offers from UCLA, Hawaii, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado State, and San Jose State as well.
The offer from the local school, UCLA, was a big one.
"UCLA was always a school where it was a goal of mine to get an offer," Ray said. "They actually called my coach the day before they offered me. I was supposed to go on a visit there that Thursday, but things didn't work out where I could get down there. Coach (Adrian) Klemm called my coach to tell him he was going to offer me while I was on my visit there, and then things didn't work out, so we got in touch and he told me he couldn't wait and was just going to offer me now. I've just been keeping up wtih Coach Klemm a lot, and we've already built a good relationship."
By chance, Ray's school was actually scheduled to take a field trip to UCLA on Tuesday, so he got a chance to check out campus and meet with a coach on his visit.
"Coach (Angus) McClure came and met me and we just kind of veered off from everyone and we hung out for about two hours, just talking on campus and all that," Ray said. "We didn't get into too much football staff, but just went around campus."
Given that it wasn't a formal football visit, and he didn't do any of the typical dorm and facility tours, he's planning another unofficial visit potentially as early as next week.
"Next week, I'm going to take an in-depth unofficial visit, go through everything, all the dorms, all the facilities, all the academic stuff, meet with Coach Klemm, everything," Ray said. "This way I can meet with Coach Mora too, and things like that."
Ray's a tackle in high school, and UCLA is offering him to play as a tackle, but he said his versatility also appealed to the Bruin staff.
"They offered me as a tackle, but I can play guard too, anywhere on the o-line," Ray said. "That's one reason they offered me, because I'm very versatile, I can play wherever on the o-line. I'm not just a tackle, I'm not just a center, I can kind of play anywhere."
Interestingly, despite being a SoCal native, Ray's early college allegiance was far to the East.
"University of Tennessee was my dream school growing up," Ray said. "My family is from Tennessee. My first outfit as a baby was actually a Tennessee onesie. I've always been a Tennessee fan, but things don't always work out that way, and I have to do what's best for me, and I live out in California so they haven't been looking at me at all really. That was the dream when I was little. But it's all up in the air, I don't really have that one school now."
Ray said the Vols haven't been in contact, but he did take a trip to see the school during his freshman season.
"I went there for a visit my freshman year," Ray said. "My uncle was on the national championship team back in 1998. So, I went there then, but I haven't really heard from them since."
As for other unofficial visits he's taken, he's been to a few Pac-12 schools, and taken in some games at the other local school as well.
"Over the summer, I went to Arizona State, Arizona, and I've been to three or four games at USC, where I was in their locker room, but not on campus," Ray said. "I was in contact with USC a lot last year, but then their o-line coach got fired and I haven't heard anything too much from them."
The Trojans have kept in touch to an extent, but they haven't been recruiting him too heavily recently.
"There was one coach, Coach Thompson, who stayed in touch with me," Ray said. "We talked back and forth, and he said they're going to get back into evaluating the 2017 class coming up, and they said they take things a little bit slower than other schools, they don't just throw out offers like other schools. So, I should be hearing from them pretty soon."
Ray said he hopes to make a decision soon, with the idea being to get his college choice out of the way before his final year of high school.
"I like the recruiting process and it feels good to know your hard work is paying off, and it feels good to be wanted," Ray said. "But I'm going to try to commit either after spring or some time before the season. I want to go on a trip over my spring break to visit a bunch of schools, and wherever I feel at home, that'll be where I go. I'll probably decide soon after spring, and definitely before my senior season, just so I can focus on finishing high school with a bang without any of this hanging over my head."
Ray's plan for visits over his spring break is ambitious, with a plan to see much of the Pac-12 in that timespan.
"We have two weeks of spring break, so I'm going to go up through Washington, check out Washington State, most likely Washington, both of the Oregon schools, and maybe by the end of this month I'm going to check out Arizona State on their junior day on the 27th, and if I do that, probably check out Arizona," Ray said. "I'd really like to go to every school that's offered me, but maybe not Hawaii, because that's a really expensive trip."
As for his priorities in picking a school, he's definitely looking for a balance of football and academics.
"I'm definitely looking for a place where I can use football as a tool for after football is done, meaning a place where I can get a good degree that'll serve me well after I'm done playing," Ray said. "Football isn't going to last forever, even if I am blessed to get to the NFL. I want to have a good relationship with the coaches. I want to play in the Pac-12, really, a big school like that. A place where I'm close with the coaches and all that. I've heard that when you step on campus somewhere, you know if it's a school for you or not.
"I feel like I've got that relationship with UCLA right now, but I'm just taking it one day at a time."
The Bruins appear to be in a good spot here heading into spring, but there are a few schools out there that could make a real impact on his recruitment if they got involved.
"It'd be Oregon, Michigan, Tennessee, USC, and Texas A&M," Ray said. "Those would be some really big ones for me. My uncle played for John Chavis, and he's A&M's defensive coordinator. Michigan, Oregon, and USC would also all be huge offers for me."
But he did say that the list would be different if a certain offer hadn't come in last week.
"If I didn't have an offer from UCLA, then I'd be saying UCLA first on that list," Ray said. "I love UCLA. It's not too far, it's not too close. I can still see mom when I want to. You can't beat the weather. It's just a great school."