MADISON, Ala. — Alabama signee LaBryan Ray has a great opportunity to play early as a true freshman this coming fall.
Ray, a 5-star prospect, joins a Crimson Tide team looking for defensive linemen to step up after the departure of Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson. Da’Ron Payne is the only returning starter.
Ray is one of two defensive linemen who’ll join Alabama this summer (Phil Mathis from Monroe, La., is the other).
Junior college transfer Isaiah Buggs, who enrolled in January, was the only other defensive lineman the Crimson Tide signed in the 2017 cycle.
“I do want to play early. I would definitely love to,” Ray told SEC Country. “Is there a chance I may get redshirted? Yeah. But I’m not really thinking of that. I’m trying to go in there and play and show the coaches what I got just for a chance.
“I’m hoping I can get some playing time as a freshman. Anything can happen. I’m ready for the future and to see what it holds.”
Alabama is no stranger to playing freshmen defensive linemen. Allen, A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Ron Payne each contributed in their first seasons on campus. So even if he doesn’t start, there’s a strong chance Ray is able to break into the rotation.
Ray said he’s spoken with Alabama’s coaching staff and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar about being versatile enough to rush from the edge as well as slide inside in certain defensive packages. The role sounds similar to the one Allen played throughout his All-American career at Alabama.
Ray is a composite 5-star defensive lineman and arguably the top player in the state of Alabama in 2017. The 247Sports composite listed Ray as the No. 26 overall player nationally and the No. 1 strong-side defensive end prospect.
Ray finished his senior season at James Clemens High School with 124 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries, 2 fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. As a junior in 2015, Ray recorded 113 tackles with 20 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.
He picked Alabama over Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Alabama fans can expect Ray to work hard once he hits campus.
“My dad always told me that if you put in the work, everything else will take care of itself,” Ray said. “Just a hard, hard worker. I know I’m gone play with 110 percent, be relentless and try to wreak havoc. All of that in one.”
Alabama signee LaBryan Ray