University of Missouri

Missouri defensive end Shane Ray hasn’t decided on NFL future, according to his mom

Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray will wait until after the Citrus Bowl to announce his intentions of remaining at MU next season or making himself eligible for the May 2015 NFL Draft.
Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray will wait until after the Citrus Bowl to announce his intentions of remaining at MU next season or making himself eligible for the May 2015 NFL Draft. AP

Junior defensive end Shane Ray has not made a decision about the NFL Draft and won’t until after Missouri’s bowl game, according to his mother, Sebrina Johnson.

“Nobody knows what Shane’s going to do, because we haven’t even discussed it,” Johnson told The Star by phone Tuesday. “What I’ve told everybody who’s ringing my dadgum phone off the hook is that Shane is focused on the season.”

Johnson said she has been fielding endless calls from agents, who are interested in signing Ray if he opts to declare early for the draft, but she will not have any meetings until after No. 16 Missouri plays Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

“The agents have been trying to meet with me now before the bowl game, but I’ve told them, ‘I am not meeting with you until after the bowl,’” Johnson said. “Shane and I are going to sit down after the bowl and talk. At that point, if he decides to declare, then I’ll start meeting with people.”

Johnson said she and Ray will make the decision together.

“He hasn’t even been home for us to sit and discuss it,” she said. “I don’t want it to be an off-the-cuff decision. We’re going to sit and talk about it.”

Coach Gary Pinkel said Saturday that Missouri had submitted the names of underclassmen for the NFL Draft’s evaluation process.

Presumably, Ray’s name was at the top of that list, but Pinkel declined to say which five Tigers players were submitted for evaluation under streamlined rules adopted by the NFL last summer. The rules are aimed at reducing the record number of early draft entries.

A record 107 players left school for the NFL Draft last spring, and 45 went undrafted.

Johnson said she hasn’t heard anything about an NFL evaluation, but stressed that “that decision is not going to be made without me at all,” she said.

Ray broke the Missouri single-season sack record with 14 this season. He also has 21 tackles for a loss, which is three shy of the Tigers’ single-season record.

“Shane had a lot of goals this year that he wanted to accomplish, so he said, ‘Mom, we’re not even going to talk about the draft until after the bowl game and my season is over,’” Johnson said.

Ray was chosen as the SEC defensive player of the year by the Associated Press and the conference’s coaches.

He also was a first-team All-American selection by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He was chosen earlier Tuesday as a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.

“He’s had a great season and he hears everybody saying he should go, but there’s a whole process to go through,” Johnson said.

Pinkel up for Dodd Trophy

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was announced Tuesday as one of 12 finalists for the Dodd Trophy.

The award, which is named for Georgia Coach Bobby Dodd, recognizes scholarship, leadership and integrity on and off the field.

Pinkel is one of five finalists from the SEC along with Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Mark Richt, Mississippi’s Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.

Baylor’s Art Briles and TCU’s Gary Patterson also made the list of finalists along with Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, UCLA’s Jim Mora and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.

Golden accepts Senior Bowl invite

Missouri senior defensive end Markus Golden has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

He ranks fourth on the Tigers in tackles with 68 despite missing the Indiana game.

He leads the team with nine quarterback hurries and three fumble recoveries and also ranks second with 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss.

Golden is one of 15 SEC players who has accepted an invitation to the game, which is set for 3 p.m. Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala.

Three more MU players — left tackle Mitch Morse, running back Marcus Murphy and strong safety Braylon Webb — are on the Senior Bowl watch list.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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