Spring football returned to the University of Alabama on Friday, March 19.
Fans of the Crimson Tide are excited for this edition of athletes taking the field, as Nick Saban and the program look to repeat as national champions. With 15 practice sessions – including the A-Day Game – the staff writers for Touchdown Alabama Magazine will provide in-depth previews on marquee players.
We are on the defensive side of the ball. Our second profile piece is on LaBryan Ray.
-Classification: Redshirt Senior
–Position: Defensive Lineman
-Hometown: Madison, Ala.
-Weight: 295 pounds
-Strengths: Power, athleticism, quickness, pass rush abilities, experience, run stopper
-Weaknesses: Injuries, played in 10 games in the last two years
–Summary: Will we see a season with LaBryan Ray at full strength?
This is a question Alabama fans are pondering. Nick Saban has stated on occasions that the Crimson Tide is better defensively with Ray; however, injuries have limited him from being a superstar. He arrived at the University of Alabama as an elite, five-star edge rusher from James Clemons High School (Madison, Ala.).
Ray stuffed the stats sheet in his career, totaling 290 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 25 sacks, and 32 quarterback pressures. He was regarded as the Tide’s next sacks specialist as a defensive end.
The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder started his collegiate tenure with five tackles (2.5 for loss) and one sack in 2017. He would be part of a College Football Playoff National Championship roster; however, Ray suffered a foot injury and was limited to six games.
His sophomore year has been the lone healthy season of his tenure.
In 2018, Ray played in all 15 games and tallied 39 tackles (5.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, and two quarterback pressures.
He assisted Alabama to a Southeastern Conference title and its second straight CFP berth. Ray would get hit early with a lower leg injury in 2019, during the Tide’s matchup against South Carolina. His season ended after three games on the heels of nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. Before Alabama faced Georgia in 2020, an elbow injury prevented Ray from seeing the field.
He played in seven games last year, recording 12 tackles and two quarterback pressures.
Ray did have strong outings versus Missouri and Ole Miss, as he combined for 10 tackles.
He has played in 31 games across four years, but can Ray give the Tide a whole season of dominance?
Despite having a good spring, his answer will come in the fall. Ray has one opportunity to put a full season of quality performances on tape for NFL scouts. Phidarian Mathis will bring energy and leadership, but Ray must follow suit and prove he can avoid the injury bug. Medical mishaps are the lone area holding him back from becoming a fierce defensive end at Alabama.
The best ability is availability. Alabama needs Ray to be available for its defense in the coming fall.
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