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More Than a Game

Mail keeps pouring in for Sickles standout Ray Ray McCloud

On Saturday, Ray Ray McCloud III received 29 pieces of recruitment mail; the rest of his family received three letters.

This is normal for the McCloud household.

During the week, the Sickles High School running back received a good luck letter for his school's upcoming game against Freedom High from Clemson University running back coach Tony Elliott, along with letters from schools including Notre Dame, the University of South Florida and Louisville. There were also 27 letters that Sickles head football coach Brian Turner gave him that arrived at the school. On average, Ray Ray receives about 150 recruitment letters every week.

"Our mail carriers are big football fans and they are always talking about the recruitment mail that gets sent here," said Ray Ray's mother, Lisa McCloud. "They told me, 'we are waiting to see who he commits to in the coming months.' "

Ray Ray, 16, is only a junior and can't yet legally drive a car on his own. But he has already received 15 offers to play college football. He received his first letters last year. The strangest letter? A fake check from the University of Southern California showing Ray Ray how much he might make in the NFL one day if he plays with the Trojans.

"I've gotten advice from other players; they told me to keep my head straight and to take my time, not to rush the process," he said. "It's going to happen, God is going to put you in the right place."

Ray Ray's parents and coaches are very excited about his athletic future, but they also put a strong focus on academics and faith. Though they try not to be overbearing in the process, his family agrees that Ray Ray's choice will be a family decision.

"We want to send him to a program that works well for him both academically and athletically," his mom said. "It's a big decision to make. We need to pray about it as a family."

Do you have an idea that you would like to see featured in "More Than a Game"? Eve Edelheit can be reached at eedelheit@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3309.

Each week this fall, Times photographer Eve Edelheit scans Hillsborough County to focus on the ancillary aspects — players, drama, coaches, fans, highs, lows, tradition, cheerleaders — which make prep football here "More Than a Game."

Mail keeps pouring in for Sickles standout Ray Ray McCloud 10/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 1:39pm]
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