September 30, 2008

Coach's prediction impresses Florida WR

The calendar turned to October today, and that could prove to be fairly significant for one of the Sunshine State's top wide receiver prospects.

Havana (East Gadsden), Fla., three-star wide receiver Lance Ray said late Tuesday that he's narrowed his potential choices down to a manageable handful and could make a decision before Halloween.

Ray has a top five of Ole Miss, Arkansas, Illinois, LSU and Mississippi State. All but Les Miles' Tigers have offered, and Mississippi State, by Ray's admission, is "not a top choice," so that leaves the Rebels, Razorbacks and Fighting Illini in a battle for his services.

Ole Miss has made a major push recently for the 6-foot-2, 183-pound speedster, thanks in large part to Ray's relationship with Ole Miss cornerbacks coach/recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn and the Rebels' 31-30 win over Florida in Gainesville this past Saturday.

"Ole Miss has a great chance," Ray said. "Hopefully, I'm going to visit (Ole Miss). It may be towards the end of the season. I need to work it out with Coach Vaughn. They're fired up about me and I feel the same way.

"(Vaughn) told me before the game they would win. That interested me because no one around here gave Ole Miss a chance. It was a breakthrough game. It showed what they're capable of doing."

While a plethora of offensive skill prospects have been intrigued by what Ole Miss did with wide receiver Dexter McCluster and running back Brandon Bolden in the "Wild Rebel" package, Ray was fired up about the Rebels' consistent attempts to stretch the field vertically this season and against Florida, in particular. Quarterback Jevan Snead and wide receiver Shay Hodge hooked up for an 86-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put the Rebels ahead for good. Ray liked what he saw.

"I like the deep routes," Ray said. "I like the routes they ran. The whole offense was on fire. They had good schemes. I could see myself fitting in there."

Arkansas and Illinois have impressed Ray too and appear to be the major competition for his signature.

"I love Arkansas' offense," Ray said. "They throw the ball a lot. They had a bad game against Alabama, but they get the ball out a lot. They're the type of team that tries to out-score teams. They have a lot of physical receivers and that kind of fits my game.

"What Illinois runs is very similar to Florida, with the slip screens and the dumps. It's the same scheme (Illinois coach Ron Zook) ran at Florida. I love that too."

So far this season, Ray has 13 catches for 393 yards and three touchdowns. He's added four tackles from his safety spot. Ray is on track to meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements.

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