We continue the Better Know a Buckeye series with its fourth installment in 2018. Here, we profile Max Wray, an offensive tackle prospect from Franklin, Tennessee.
- Size: 6-6/289
- Position: OT
- Hometown: Franklin, TN
- School: Franklin
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 121
- Position Ranking: 9 (OT)
- State Ranking: 3 (TN)
- U.S. Army All-American
Wray was originally a Georgia pledge and there were few indicators early into his recruitment that he would end up anywhere but an SEC power. Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas A&M were early offers. Alabama expressed strong interest as well but Wray pledged to Georgia in the spring of 2016. That commitment held for a year before Wray decommitted to explore other options. He heard an effective pitch from Urban Meyer and committed to Ohio State less than a month after the Buckeyes started recruiting him.
I retell this story below, starting first with how his recruitment began in 2015 building toward his earlier pledge to Georgia. I then discuss his decommitment and eventual commitment to Ohio State. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report of an athletic tackle prospect with an elite wingspan and room to grow. I conclude with a projection of a redshirt and some highlight film to watch at the end of the feature.
Max Wray's recruitment to Ohio State is unique. Other members of the class that committed earlier into the cycle had longstanding offers from Ohio State and chose the Buckeyes after weighing a few other major offers. Most of these cases involve prospects from Ohio or who have strong Ohio ties. Wray, on the other hand, never thought he'd leave the South and even committed to Georgia for a year before Ohio State came calling.
More Max Wray at 11W
Few things about Wray's recruitment suggested he would go anywhere other than a major SEC school. LSU was a major early offer in the fall of 2015 and Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas A&M all offered Wray within a month of each other early into 2016. He was even earning some attention from Alabama's coaching staff as well before getting a scholarship offer later that spring.
However, it was Georgia that jumped into the lead for his commitment for a variety of reasons. Wray enjoyed his recruitment from assistant coach Sam Pittman. His would-be position coach was well-traveled with previous stints at places like Arkansas and Tennessee. They hit it off on the recruiting trail, which piqued Wray's interest in playing in Athens. It was a new era in Athens with Kirby Smart taking over the program. This led to considerable excitement for Wray and, soon, a commitment to Georgia on March 31, 2016.
Wray expressed his commitment was binding and his recruitment was finished. He even unfollowed every recruiting analyst he was previously following on Twitter. He even reiterated his commitment despite overtures from programs like Alabama, Miami, and Texas. All offered while Wray was still committed to Georgia.
This obviously did not hold until signing day. Max Wray started to hit the recruiting trail again early in 2017, focusing on Alabama and Clemson. These visits coincided with a simultaneous decommitment from Georgia. Wray did not belabor the reasons why but the best intuition from publicly available information emphasizes the wealth of talent Georgia brought to the program as part of its 2017 recruiting class. Wray may have started to see more opportunities for playing time elsewhere.
Three days later, Ohio State entered the fray with scholarship offers to Max Wray and his younger brother, Jake. The recruitment that followed was brief but intense. The Wrays visited Columbus less than a month later. Despite planning to extend his recruitment into the early summer, Wray saw and heard enough from Ohio State's staff to end his recruitment shortly after his visit.
Max Wray committed to Ohio State on April 15, 2017 as the fourth member of what would become its final 2018 recruiting class. He chose Ohio State over competing offers from more than a dozen programs, including Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Tennessee.
— Max Wray (@maxwray10) April 15, 2017
Wray expressed some surprise his commitment to Ohio State came so soon after it started. However, the Buckeyes put forward a pitch that checked all boxes that Wray wanted. Ohio State had openings on the depth chart at offensive tackle in 2018. The assistant coaches were welcoming and cordial. Further, Ohio State knew how to put on a show for a campus visit.
Or, as Max Wray's father explained to Eleven Warriors, "Urban Meyer is very persuasive."
His recruitment ended for real with this commitment though there was some confusion regarding the Wray's departure from the football program at Franklin. However, the departure was not a discipline issue but was reported to be a reaction to how the football program handled a concussion that Max Wray's younger brother suffered that season.
It did not jeopardize Wray's place in the program. He signed with the Buckeyes' on the early signing day and enrolled at the university this January.
WHERE HE EXCELS
Ohio State has an interesting recent history recruiting offensive tackles. Several ultimately become guards for one reason or the other. It could be an expediency issue, which explains why Michael Jordan found his way to left guard in 2016 and spent the past two seasons there because there was an opening and Jordan capitalized. It could be a development thing as some tackle prospects slow down with increased mass, which makes them more suitable to play in the interior.
In Wray's case, I think he ultimately stays in the tackle picture for as long as he's at Ohio State. He has the ideal frame for it and could thrive at right tackle, especially.
Tennessee reportedly did not value him for his athleticism, height, or length. I don't quite see it that way. His athleticism is fine and his wingspan is exceptional. His wingspan in a reported 84 inches.
By comparison, the average man's wingspan is a little more than two inches his height. Wray's wingspan is around six inches more than his height and it allows him to get inside defensive linemen off the snap.
Further, Wray is a coachable player who has a great combination of instincts, intellect, and athleticism in space. This should translate well to the future at Ohio State.
MUST WORK ON
Every high school offensive lineman is a better run-blocker than he is a pass-protector. Wray is no different and that disparity between run-blocker and pass-protector might be more pronounced for Wray than it is for some other blue-chip tackle prospects Ohio State signs. He can get to where he needs to be in the minutiae of pass-protection but he has ground to make up.
Wray has a good frame around which to build but the next few seasons in the weight room will be important for his development. He's accustomed to pushing around smaller players but even the likes of Illinois and Purdue will be far better than anything he saw in high school. He'll need to drive more power from his lower body than he shows.
Max Wray wants to compete for playing time and there's an opening for him to do it. However, I think Wray could shine the most as redshirt freshman or sophomore after a few years of off-season conditioning and drills. Expect a redshirt in 2018.
Here are junior-year highlights of Max Wray.