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May 13, 2011Ray Drew laughed that he's had some unusual requests from fans since signing with Georgia last February.
You can bet future teammate Ben Jones has never been asked this one before.
"I've had people ask me to marry them," said Drew of the request that took place not long after Signing Day. "I told them I wasn't yet ordained; they just thought it would be nice to have a Georgia football player marry them."
If only they had waited a bit longer.
Now an ordained Baptist minister, Drew is now legally able to enter blissful couples into wedlock.
He's also had other requests as well.
"I've had two or three calls from folks actually asking me to pastor churches," Drew said. "But with me getting ready to go off to college and play football, I don't think that's a responsibility that I would be able to take on right now."
That said, he could if he wanted.
Drew, who began preaching at Paradise Missionary Baptist Church in Thomasville as a seventh-grader, received his ordinance just a few months ago.
"I've been working with my pastor and told him that was something I really wanted to have done before I went off to college, because April 20 of this year, that made it five years that I've been in the ministry," Drew said. "I told him I'd like to have my ordinance as I went off into college. It's something I wanted before I got around the influences in Athens. I know I'd have to carry myself a certain way."
Drew is taking other steps to ensure any future temptation won't be around.
"I've had to tell my coaches that there were something that I just had to have set and wouldn't take any other kind of way - like the people I'm rooming with - Christian LeMay, Christian Conley and Sterling Bailey," Drew said. "Sterling Bailey is a very devout Christian, whose been messaging the Gospel lately as well. Christian Conley ministers through music with his guitar, and Christian LeMay, his mother and dad are pastors, he's a very devout Christian as well. So I feel like if I can surround myself with the type of people who have my kind of tendencies and my likeness, we can hold each other accountable and try to keep each other on the right path."
Drew arrives with the rest of Georgia's incoming class on June 6.
He's fully qualified as his name already appears in Georgia's student directory.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said Drew, who will initially be groomed to play Will linebacker. "I talk to Christian (Robinson), Mr. Burroughs (Brandon), the other linebacker there. I like to mess with him. The last time I was there he was calling me "Dream Team,'" Drew said. "I talk to Bacarri Rambo a good bit and a number of others, but I stay in touch with everyone in my class as well."
He'll soon get to know them on a more intimate level very soon.
According to head coach Mark Richt, he's going to keep the incoming freshmen grouped together for their summer workouts with strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski to get them acclimated before breaking them off into their specific position groups.
Drew believes that's a good idea.
"I believe so. It's just like anything you do, you have to build up to something and if you get in with someone who's right around your same level, you can build together," he said. "You can reach the speed that they want you to and then put you with everyone else. That's just like when you start out driving, you don't automatically jump on the interstate. It's one of those situations."
Drew is just anxious to get his college career underway.
"I just want to go wherever the Lord points his finger," he said. "Everything I've done so far has been by his grace and mercy so I'm just going to try and follow in his likeness and try to do everything right, because I feel if you do things right and continue to give him the credit that he deserves he will continue to bless you."
He's already done more than most.
Following an illustrious high school career at Thomas County Central, Drew was one of the standouts at the U.S. Army Game, followed by a trip to New York City to select the U.S. Army Player of the Year and an appearance on ESPN's "First Take."
A well-rounded individual, Drew counts former New York Giants standout Michael Strahan as a mentor and recently met country music fiddle icon Charlie Daniels.
"I've had a many opportunities to meet many different people and go to many different places. It's all been great. I wouldn't trade a thing for it right now," Drew said. "The Lord blessed me with athletic ability which has enabled me to do these things; it's just big for me. I know you've heard me say this before but I just try and use football as a platform."
It's a platform he fully intends to use to use once he arrives in Athens.
For those who doubt his message or his sincerity, he's got a quick response.
"You have some people who think he's too young to be a preacher, or will not take me seriously, but it all depends on the person," Drew said. "All I can do is to continue to spread his word and hope that not only will I get my life right for myself but for the Lord as well."