May 4, 2012

New goals for Drew

When Ray Drew talks about goals, he always sets them higher than the average person ordinarily might.

That obviously applies to his work on the football field, but also to track and field where the former Thomas County Central standout is trying his hand at discus for the Bulldogs during the outdoor portion of the season this spring.

Considering Drew remains raw by technique standards, the results have been pretty good.

Drew has competed in three meets for the Bulldogs this spring, placing second in the Georgia Relays with a throw of 170-03, followed by a toss of 169-07 to finish third at the Yellow Jacket Invitational at Georgia Tech."As far as being consistent, I'm continuing to work at it and it looks like it's paying off," Drew said recently. "I've got the time now where I can put a little more emphasis and hopefully make that jump where I can have another 200-foot throw."

Don't put it past him.

Although Drew has yet to approach those levels on the collegiate level, he has reached them before.

Last year, Drew won the 2011 Class AAAA state title in the discus with a throw of 183-7, that coming after a previous toss of 201-2, the nation's seventh-longest prep throw. The toss was also just three feet away from the state record owned by former Bulldog football player Hiawatha Berry while at Winder-Barrow High.

Drew won his region discus title by 55 feet.

But unlike football, throwing the discus didn't always come easy.

"I didn't really start winning until my junior-senior year," Drew said. "My junior year there was a guy from Albany and Monroe, who beat me in everything. I couldn't understand how he was doing it because he was a smaller guy, but with his technique he would always punch it out there farther. But then, it started clicking for me, I guess. The last meet before state I threw it (201.2). I felt pretty good about myself after that."

Drew's feeling "pretty good" about his progress on the collegiate scene as well.

Next week, Drew will get the opportunity to test his mettle against the best from the SEC at the league championships which begin May 10 in Baton Rouge.

"I'd like to take what I've learned this year and just grow on it next year," Drew said. "With it being my first year, 200 feet would be a major goal, that's what I did in high school. I didn't think I would be throwing over 200 feet in high school but I set that goal, worked at it and eventually was able to do it."

Bulldog throws coach Don Babbitt isn't putting anything past him.

"Ray is very quick and agile as well. He's very good even though he has not had a lot of technical background, yet he has good, basic quick movement," Babbitt told "There's still room for refinement and in regards to special strength, especially training for discus, that's an area where he can be better. But he has a lot of natural ability. He has enough to get to the highest level."

Physically, Drew is already there.

According to Babbitt, Drew's arm span of 7-foot-3 gives him a tremendous advantage

"There are two Olympic champions who are at 7-2, which is considered huge, and Ray is bigger than that," Babbitt said.

Of course, Drew's main sport will remain football, something Georgia fans certainly are excited about.

So is Drew, who's excited about his new home at defensive end.

"To this point, I feel I've progressed," Drew said. "I still have some things I need to work on and keep building on, but I think I've got the little things down - the basic fundamentals, alignment that kind of stuff. As far as the transition goes, all in all I think it's gone very well."