Georgia football recruit aims for discus record

Thomas County Central’s Ray Drew was one of the nation’s top high school football players this past season, earning various All-America honors and signing to play at Georgia.

Drew may be more talented in another sport.

This spring, Drew has rapidly developed into a five-star recruit in track and field. He is ranked among the country’s top five discus throwers in high school, according to his coach.

The 6-foot-5, 243-pound defensive end is so encouraged that he has decided to be a two-sport athlete in college. “I’m not going to give up on football,” Drew said with a laugh, “but I’m going to do both at Georgia.”

Drew started throwing the discus as a sophomore and really showcased his enormous potential when he finished fourth in last year’s state meet at 171-10. It wasn’t an eye-popping number until you consider the style.

“He did that while standing still, without the spin technique,” Thomas County Central assistant David Johnson said. “The people at the state meet last year were in awe of anyone that could stand there and — ‘punch it’ as we call it — that far.”

Since then, Drew has worked on his technique, and this spring’s results have been startling.

At the Florida Relays, Drew threw 192-3, which is one of the better performances ever by a Georgia high school athlete. At another meet in Tallahassee, Drew increased to 195-11 3/4. He has thrown 200 feet in practices this week.

Georgia’s track assistant in charge of throws, Don Babbitt, witnessed Drew’s accomplishments in person at the Florida Relays.

“[Babbitt] told me that they’re already making plans for Ray not only to play football, but also continue to throw the discus at the collegiate level,” Johnson said. “It’s not to the point where I’m going to say he’ll be in the Olympics one day, but he has some special potential.”

Drew is completely sold on participating in two sports at Georgia. He said he requested and was granted permission by Georgia’s football coaches. “They think if I have an opportunity to go far with it, then they are all for it.”

As usual, Drew has placed high expectations on himself. He’s not only chasing after the state championship at next month’s state meet, but also the state record.

The record is held by a former Georgia defensive lineman. While at Winder-Barrow, Hiawatha Berry threw 204-2 in 1985.

“Ray wants to beat that record, and he’s eight feet from it,” Johnson said. “We’ve got two weeks of work to get eight feet from him.”

“That’s my goal, and I’m getting close in practice,” Drew said. “I believe once I get into some competition, my adrenaline will kick in and I’ll get into the zone. I’m hoping to get the drive and momentum needed to launch over the 204 mark.”