AUBURN, Ala. When Rhett Lashlee referred to Melvin Ray as old during his post-practice press conference Thursday, he didnt mean for it to be interpreted as a joke or criticism.
Its just the truth.
Melvins role is that hes an older guy literally and by class, Lashlee said of the junior receiver, who will turn 25 on April 23. Hes just old. Its just an honest thing.
If anything, Lashlee views Rays age as a positive, since his maturity level is at a level far behind most members of the team. More importantly, Lashlee loves the Tallahassee, Fla., natives versatility.
We moved him around a lot last year, the coach said. He gives us some flexibility with all the things we do differently with the personnel. He can play a lot of different spots.
The reason Rays Auburn career got off to a late start? Baseball got to him first. Drafted in the 33rd round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ray spent three years with the organization. He never cracked the majors, however, and returned to the gridiron in 2012, playing in all 12 of the Tigers games that season.
His career highlight came last year, as he reeled in a 50-yard touchdown from Nick Marshall in the BCS championship game, which extended Auburns lead to 14-3 a little over a minute into the second quarter.
What his role will be going forward is a bit murky. With the addition of Dhaquille Williams and Stanton Truitt this spring, the receiving corps is deeper than ever. Regardless, Lashlee is sure Ray will find a way to contribute next season.
He makes you feel good, too, that if someone went down and its even a position hes not playing you could move him there and hes be able to plug in and play, Lashlee said. Melvin will have a role and hell help us win.