June 4, 2010

Drew finds mentor in former NFL star

Sometimes, being a top-rated recruit is a lonesome position to be.

Just ask Thomas County Central's Ray Drew.

Sure, it's not like the prized defensive end prospect doesn't have people with whom to talk. College coaches and reporters are always buzzing his cell phone, wanting to know his future collegiate plans.

But when it comes to having someone to share his thoughts away from football, Drew's contacts have been few and far between.

That is, before future NFL Hall-of-Famer Michael Strahan agreed to step in and help fill the void.

"It's just awesome," Drew said of Strahan, who has agreed to be his mentor. "I'm just really excited that he agreed to do it."

Drew said he was able to reach out to Strahan thanks to Tennessee defensive line Chuck Smith, whose work with Defensive Line Inc. in Suwanee included mentoring young defensive linemen about to enter the NFL.

"I asked Coach Smith who he worked with, and if there was anyone that he could put me in contact with," Drew said. "So, we talked about a few and he was able to put me in touch with Michael Strahan."

Drew said he remembers every single detail about that first conversation.

"It was 17 minutes and 11 seconds long," Drew laughed. "It was a nice first conversation, he made a very good impression on me and I hope I made a good impression on him."

Drew certainly appreciates Strahan's time.

After retiring two years ago from the New York Giants where he set the NFL record for career stats, Strahan's career has branched out to television, a busy schedule that includes his current stint on the Fox PreGame Show as well as his gig on his television comedy "Brothers."

"At first we just joked around but as time went I got up the courage to tell him that I had always looked up to him, he was one of my heroes and I had followed him his entire career," Drew said. "I told him I'd be honored if he would be my mentor. He said he would be honored."

Drew said the pair talks about a number of different subjects, but not just about football.

There are life lessons to be learned here.

"Every step he's taken with me there's been meaning behind it," Drew explained. "We've really talked a lot about life after football and to make sure I got my degree."

On the field, Strahan told Drew to be the best you have to strive for it every single day.

"He told me to always be willing to do more than the man in front of you," Drew said. "After practice, you've got to go and do more every day, whether it's working on your own or spending an extra hour in the weight room. He (Strahan) wanted to be great, and he did. But like he told me, you can't be great unless you work at it."

Drew said Strahan offered some other advice to "help keep his head on straight."

"Everything we've talked about has been about life lessons," Drew said. "He also told me I don't anyone anything except the people who helped get you where you are, your parents, and others like your Pastor, something like that."

As far as his recruiting goes, Drew's offer list stands at 26 after Miami became the latest earlier this week.

The Hurricane offer wasn't the only news Drew received.

On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was tabbed the nation's No. 15 player according to Rivals.com, that coming after UGASports tabbed Drew the state of Georgia's top recruit in its Post-Spring Top 75 list.

Drew said he's been humbled by the attention.

"It's been flattering and all, but the way I look at it, you're only as good as your upcoming season," said Drew, who only plans on attending the Top Gun Camp in Florida this summer. "To me, it really doesn't matter where I'm ranked. I can be No. 1 or No. 827; I'm still going to play the game to the best of my ability. That's all I can really do."

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