February 7, 2007

Chicago OL brings toughness to the table

The following article is reprinted from a recent issue of SPARTAN Magazine. We will be running SPARTAN Magazine stories on selected members of the incoming recruiting class on SpartanMag.com today as part of national letter of intent signing day:

When it comes to producing talented football players, Chicago's Mt. Carmel High School is one of the very best in the Midwest.

The Caravan is one of the top prep football programs in the state of Illinois and over the years has produced players such as Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb and Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive end Simeon Rice.

The Michigan State Spartans are hoping that the school has produced another standout in offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr.

Ray committed to Michigan State in mid-January after visiting Illinois and North Carolina State. He also had offers from Boston College, Colorado State, Indiana, Iowa State and Kentucky.

Selected to play in the Rivals.com Offense-Defense All-American game in Fort Lauderdale, Ray is an offensive guard with plenty of potential. At 6-2, 297-pound Ray is rated the player in Illinois by Rivals.com and the No. 55 offensive guard in the country.

Ray is a versatile offensive lineman who played guard for Mt. Carmel as a junior and moved to tackle as a senior. He will likely play guard at Michigan State.

He plays much bigger than his 6-2 frame and shows terrific lateral movement.

"Arthur is a very athletic lineman," said Mt. Carmel coach Frank Lenti. "He was a starter as a junior at guard but with his athleticism we were able to move him to left tackle his senior year."

It was Ray Jr.'s athleticism that drew the attention of a number of colleges. Ray Jr. actually committed to Boston College last summer. Ray Jr. had a positive visit to Boston College last year and was strong in his commitment until former Boston College coach Tom O'Brien resigned in December to take the North Carolina State job.

"Boston College really liked Arthur," said Lenti. "Like Michigan State, their coaches were impressed by his athletic ability. He is very good as both a run blocker and a pass blocker."

With O'Brien gone along with most of his staff, Ray Jr. re-opened his recruitment and Michigan State quickly stepped in. Ray Jr. was also interested in joining O'Brien in North Carolina but the distance between Chicago and Raleigh eliminated the Wolfpack.

In the end, Ray Jr.'s decision came down to the Spartans and Illinois.

"I liked both schools," said Ray Jr. "I have a lot of friends going to Illinois and I felt a lot of pressure to go down there, but I really enjoyed my visit to Michigan State and the feeling I got among the players at Michigan State was a lot like the feeling they had at Boston College."

Ray Jr. is not the first member of his family to reach a high level of athletics. Ray's father, Arthur Ray Sr., was drafted by the New York Mets out of high school. Ray Sr. elected to attend Northern Illinois and play baseball and later played in the minor league systems of both the Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mt. Carmel also has a connection with the state of Michigan in other sports as well. Former Detroit Tiger great Denny McClain is a Mt. Carmel grad as is Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios. Spartan fans are definitely looking for Ray Jr. to add to that tradition.

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