LaBryan Ray has flown under the radar a bit in his time with Alabama football, but is poised to break out in 2019. Let’s take a deeper look at Ray, where he comes from and what brought him to Tuscaloosa.
LaBryan Ray is now in his third year with Alabama football. The 6′ 5″ 292-pound DE committed to the Crimson Tide on signing day 2017. He was a consensus 5-star prospect and most scouting agencies rated him as the first or second-best DE in the 2017 class.
Ray hails from Madison, AL and attended the new James Clemens High School. Madison has recently become a hotbed for recruiting across multiple sports. James Clemens split off from state powerhouse Bob Jones in 2012 and has become a football powerhouse in their own right since then.
Both Kyriq McDonald (originally with the Crimson Tide but transferred to Cincinnati), and Georgia’s Monty Rice graduated from James Clemens with Ray. Even with all three of those guys on the team, playing defense nonetheless, Ray was the unquestioned leader of the team.
Going into his final high school season, Ray was a 3-star recruit and wasn’t high on the national recruiting radar. By the time he finished his Senior campaign, he had vaulted up recruiting boards earning a 5-star rating and the honor of being rated the best player in the state of Alabama. He also won the Alabama Class 7A Lineman of the Year award in consecutive seasons.
He was described as soft-spoken during high school and more of a quiet leader and tone-setter for his teammates. For the most part he has been the same with Alabama football. While he is not a leader for the Tide yet, he undoubtedly has the potential to become one.
His first two seasons with Alabama football have been a mixed bag. The plan for his Freshman season was to redshirt and move onto the depth chart in his second year. However, the depth at LB and DE took significant blows due to injuries and he was forced to burn his redshirt and play in a rotational role along the defensive line. He was also injured towards the end of the season and his Freshman season ended early.
Last year, as a Sophomore, he didn’t see much action early and didn’t accumulate meaningful stats. Towards the middle and end of the year he was again thrust into a bigger role after injuries and started to show flashes of his potential.
His best game of the season came against Auburn where he posted a career-high nine tackles, one sack, and a QB hurry against the Tigers. His role was reduced in the postseason and he wasn’t much of a factor in any of the UGA, Oklahoma, or Clemson games.
He suffered a small setback after the National Championship when he was arrested for public intoxication. He issued an apology and Saban handed down an in-house punishment that won’t include suspension.
Ray has been the starting DE all spring alongside Raekwon Davis. Ray figures to be an integral part of the defensive line this season and many hope this will be the year he realizes his full potential.
Phil Steele has released his list for best draft eligible defenders for the 2019 season and Ray checks in at #10 for DEs. If he plays up to his potential he could easily end the season in the top 5 and be a first or second round pick in next year’s draft.
This season is going to be a show-me season for everybody on defense especially the secondary, but it will also be that type of season for LaBryan Ray. This is the year he shows what he can do and proves he can be a high round pick for an NFL team in one or two years. I’m excited to watch it unfold.