April 24, 2008

Two-way star has Rebels intrigued

When East Gadsden High School opens spring practice Monday, Ole Miss recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach Chris Vaughn will be on the sidelines.

Vaughn grew up in nearby Tallahassee, Fla., just minutes from the East Gadsden campus in Havana. However, Vaughn won't be there for home cooking or reminiscing. Instead, he'll be checking out athlete Lance Ray, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound speedster who could play a number of positions on either side of the football.

"I just love football," Ray said Wednesday night. "I'll play either side of the ball, offense or defense. It just doesn't matter."

That's probably music to the ears of the programs that have offered Ray scholarships. Ole Miss offered him early in the process. South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State, East Carolina, Central Florida, Duke, Iowa State and Florida International have joined the Rebels on Ray's offer list.

The Southeastern Conference schools _ in particular Ole Miss, Arkansas and South Carolina _ have turned Ray's head the most so far. Ray's also interested in Vanderbilt, a program that has been showing increased interest in recent weeks.

"Arkansas and South Carolina stick out because that's who I've been talking to the most," Ray said. "I talked to Coach Vaughn at Ole Miss earlier this week. He was talking to me about getting me up there (to Oxford) for a camp and to see the campus. I like Ole Miss. It's in the SEC. It's a school that is coming up. It's not on top right now. It's got something to prove. I like that.

"I have no idea where I am going right now. I just want to experience some different things."

Ray's father, Reginald Ray, said Wednesday that he gets the impression that his son is most interested in Ole Miss and Arkansas.

"I think he's kind of interested in getting away from Florida and getting away a bit," Reginald Ray said. "Ole Miss has interested him by talking about playing both ways."

Ray could play wide receiver, running back, cornerback or safety at the college level. Ray insists he doesn't care. He just wants to get on the field.

"I'm a real aggressive, quick player," Ray said. "I play real fast. It's like I play every game with an adrenaline rush. I just love contact, whether it's running the ball and getting hit or hitting the guy running the ball."

Ray said he has committed to attending Vanderbilt's football camp in Nashville in June. He also plans to firm up a trip to Oxford for Ole Miss' camp that same month.

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