Former Missouri defensive end Shane Ray was pulled over Monday morning in Cooper County and issued a citation for allegedly possessing less than 35 grams of marijuana.
Ray, 21, who broke the Tigers’ single-season sack record with 14 1/2 sacks last fall as a junior and was chosen as the SEC defensive player of the year, also was cited “for failing to drive in the right lane of the highway with two or more lanes,” according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s online arrest report.
According to the Highway Patrol, Ray was clocked by a trooper driving faster than the speed limit heading west on Interstate 70 at 5:46 a.m. near mile marker 109.
“Upon contact with Mr. Ray, our trooper smelled the odor of marijuana and a search was conducted and he was found in possession of marijuana,” said Corporal Scott White, the public information officer for Missouri Highway Patrol Troop F.
During the search, a small amount was found in a compartment in the car.
White didn’t know how fast Ray was driving nor a measurement of the amount of marijuana other than it was fewer than 35 grams. There was no paraphernalia found, and Ray, who was alone in the car, was released on a signature summons. While he appears in the Highway Patrol’s online arrest report, Ray was not booked in county jail at any point.
“He was given a warning for the speed violation, a citation for failure to drive in the right lane and a citation for the marijuana,” White said. “He was assigned a Cooper County court date on June 30.”
Possession of fewer than 35 grams of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor by Missouri statute. The penalty is up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, but the punishment generally doesn’t approach those maximums for a first-time offender.
Probation and a fine are the more likely outcomes, according to a local attorney.
The trooper did not smell burning marijuana, White said.
Ray “was released to go on his way once the marijuana seized and he was issued his citation …,” White said. “He was not impaired. That would be our first concern under that, but he was not impaired.”
Ray, who was described as cooperative during the traffic stop, had been a presumptive top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday in Chicago.
He finished with 65 tackles last season, including a team-high 22 1/2 for a loss, which is the fourth most in a season in Tigers history.
Ray, a graduate of Bishop Miege, also had five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and one pass breakup as a junior before declaring for the NFL Draft and forgoing his senior season.
Many analysts started to slide Ray down the draft board as he continued to recover from a toe injury that occurred during MU’s victory against Minnesota on Jan. 1 in the Citrus Bowl.
Ray was unable to go through drills other than the bench press at the NFL Combine in February, and his performance at Pro Day wasn’t as dynamic as expected. Still, Ray was still universally projected as a first-round pick, but that might change with news of his arrest only three days before the draft.
A contrite Ray vowed in a statement released late Monday night to learn from the incident.
“I’d like to apologize to my mother, fans and prospective NFL teams for my poor judgement Monday morning,” read the release from Ray. “I am embarrassed and realize there are consequences for my actions. I was not under the influence nor impaired, therefore I was not detained. Fortunately, Monday’s incident only resulted in a citation. I will make better choices in the future.
“It is imperative that I continue to strive to better myself. My future NFL career has been something I have always dreamed about and is very important to me. I commit that my actions will represent that. There are no excuses here and I will take the necessary steps to ensure this will not happen again. I will not jeopardize my ability to have a positive impact on and off the field moving forward.”
It’s unclear if the arrest will subject him the NFL’s personal-conduct policy because Ray technically isn’t a member of the league yet.