Coming out of high school a year ago, Kanan Ray never seriously considered Colorado as an option for his college football career.
“Not really to be honest,” said Ray, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman. “In high school, it was UCLA, Tennessee, Oregon.”
Given a second chance in the recruiting process, CU was at the top of his list.
On Friday, the former four-star prospect and UCLA signee signed a financial aid agreement with CU and will enroll in time to start the spring semester on Tuesday.
“The more I learned about it after I signed and committed (to UCLA), I had a couple friends go to Colorado and tell me how much they love it, I have family out there now, and I just saw their facilities on Twitter one day,” he said. “It’s a good education, too.”
Signing his agreement with CU ended a whirlwind process that didn’t really begin until about a week ago.
Ray, from Sierra Canyon (Calif.) High School, was part of UCLA’s 2017 recruiting class, but delayed his enrollment to get healthy. He played his senior year with an injured shoulder and got that fixed after his senior season. Then, in September he had surgery to tighten up his kneecap, which had come out a couple times.
“I grayshirted so I could save a year of eligibility,” he said.
Just as he was preparing to start his career at UCLA, however, the Bruins fired coach Jim Mora and hired Chip Kelly last month.
“(Kelly) came in and he kept pushing back my time and I wanted to come back, and we just kind of didn’t really get along too well, so I thought it was best to transfer,” Ray said.
About a week ago, he got his official release from the Bruins and immediately called his high school coach.
“I told him I wanted to go to Colorado,” Ray said. “After I got my release, he called (CU tight ends coach Gary) Bernardi and then we just made it go from there.”
Bernardi had recruited Ray out of high school and developed a relationship with him, and he spearheaded the efforts to get Ray this time around.
“That was the only school I contacted to see if they had a spot for me and they did,” Ray said.
Ray then flew to Colorado on Thursday night, had breakfast with CU coaches on Friday morning and by the time he flew home Friday evening, CU had announced his signing. He will back in Boulder on Monday and start classes Tuesday.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve been going through rehab for a while now, so I’m ready just to get back out there already.”
Rehab is not quite done for Ray, however. His shoulder is healthy, but his knee is not. He got an MRI during his visit to CU on Friday. The MRI, he said, was the determining factor for CU being able to sign him, and Buffs’ doctors felt good about the results.
“They knew I was hurt; they just wanted to make sure I would have a full recovery,” he said.
Ray will fully recover, but he said, “I may not be ready for spring. For sure in July (for fall camp) I’ll be ready.”
Highly regarded in high school, Ray earned an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a senior in 2017. He played tackle in high school and guard at the ArmyAll-American game.
Ray said he can play all five line spots, but believes he will play guard at CU.
“I’m more of an interior guy, I think,” he said.
It’s been several years since CU’s offensive line was considered a team strength, but the Buffs have added several top-notch line recruits in the past two classes. Adding Ray bolsters that young group even more.
“I hope I can come in and make an impact,” he said. “I know they have some good guys, young guys. Hopefully we can get a nice good group of young guys to get older and start to dominate.”
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.