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On the Ball

A well-skilled athlete trapped inside a 6-foot-5, 295-pound body, Broken Arrow’s Andrew Raym has lived up to his No. 1 prospect ranking, graduating high school early and committing to OU for football.

Article
John Tranchina
Photos
Marc Rains
Posted
September 28, 2019

It’s a testament both to how intense Andrew Raym’s determination is to be an elite football player, as well as how much emphasis he has always placed on excelling academically, that he will be graduating from Broken Arrow High School a semester early, in December.

The outstanding offensive lineman, who helped lead the Tigers to the Class 6A-I state championship last year, the school’s first, will enroll in January at the University of Oklahoma. That will give him a head start learning and assimilating into the Sooners’ football program for the 2020 season.

The decision to attend OU took a few twists and turns but was ultimately not surprising. Leaving high school early demonstrates Raym’s commitment to his dream of playing college football, even as it costs him one last season of high school baseball.

“Leaving early is all for myself,” Raym says. “In my head, I want to be great, and I want to get to a great program like OU and continue to get bigger and get better and become the best that I can be. I’m ready to get down there as quick as I can.”

His advanced academic standing enabled him to complete all the requirements to graduate a semester early and then some.

“Luckily, I started taking high school-type courses in eighth grade, so I’m ahead,” Raym says. “I only need six credits to graduate, and I’m taking three college courses this semester that will add up to six credits. So, not only am I graduating early, but I’m getting some college done as well.”

His father Gerald, a former football player at Syracuse University, had a significant influence on Andrew’s attitude toward his schoolwork.

“I’d say it came from how I grew up, or how my father raised me, and now it’s just a part of me,” Andrew says of his inner drive. “I like to do the best that I can at everything I do. I don’t want anything to make me look bad. No matter what it is, do your best.”

“He’s an outstanding student and academics are very important, which has put him in a great position,” adds Broken Arrow head football coach David Alexander. “That doesn’t happen very often. And the football part, he was born super gifted. He’s big. He’s got great athleticism for any size. At 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, he can run, throw, catch, punt, kick and block. He’s a well-skilled athlete trapped inside a 6-5, 295-pound body.”

Having been a fan of OU as a kid, Raym committed to the Sooners midway through his sophomore season. (Photo: Marc Rains)
Having been a fan of OU as a kid, Raym committed to the Sooners midway through his sophomore season. (Photo: Marc Rains)

Raym, who also played defensive tackle while growing up and hinted he might see some action there again this season, gives a lot of credit for his development into a dominant offensive lineman to two of Alexander’s assistant coaches — co-offensive coordinator Rowdy Harper and offensive line coach Mark Broyles.

“I’d say it’s having the coaches I have,” he says of the key to his success. “I was surrounded by two coaches I think are probably the best coaches in Oklahoma when it comes to the kids and getting us better. And not only are they pushing us, but they make it fun to play for them. They help me critique the tiny things which help me get even better at my game. Honestly, I owe almost everything to Coach Harper and Coach Broyles.”

The presence of Alexander, a former BA graduate who played at the University of Tulsa before spending 10 years in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets as an offensive lineman, has also been beneficial.

“It’s always been a little more focus with our position coaches, but when Coach A sees something that could be tweaked a little bit, he’ll let you know,” Raym says. “That man’s got 10 years of NFL experience, so I better listen to him.”

As Raym made an immediate impact in his first couple of high school seasons, word traveled quickly, and he began to get besieged by colleges scouting him. Having been a fan of OU as a kid, Raym committed to the Sooners midway through his sophomore season.

But as he continued to progress on the field, he also gained more and more. He’s considered the No. 1 recruit in Oklahoma for 2020. And it was all a bit overwhelming, especially at first.

“I had a meeting with him and his dad about 18 months ago, and I gave them a heads-up about what was going to happen,” Alexander says. “But it’s one thing, in a 30-minute conversation, for the head coach to tell you, and the reality. There for a while, it was a little overwhelming getting that much attention from that many places.

“No 17-year-old is ready for the avalanche of attention that you get when you’re a national recruit. It’s tough to fathom. You can’t carry your phone with you. He’d leave it in his backpack during school last year, and he’d come out, and there would be 400 messages. I told him, ‘It’s not fair; it’s just one of the burdens that come with being an exceptional athlete.’”

Raym admits he was a bit shell shocked at first, but he gradually adjusted his mindset about it all.

“The first couple of years were hectic,” Raym says. “I wasn’t caught up in it, but I gave it a little too much than I wish I would have. Honestly, the last two years, I scaled it back, and I just started living my life again. I’d respond to all the stuff whenever I had the time to do so, but I’m in high school, so I’m going to enjoy it while I’m here.

“I’m a down-to-earth type of guy, too, so I didn’t make too much of it.”

As his profile skyrocketed, he decided to see what other college options were available. He de-committed from Oklahoma toward the end of his sophomore year. That meant last season, as a junior, just about every high-level football program in the nation was seeking his services (and texting him all day). After a thorough process of evaluating all his options, including multiple visits around the country, Raym ended up sticking with OU, re-committing to the Sooners in July over Georgia and Michigan.

“I de-committed at a time when I was starting to think about things from a different perspective, and I realized that there was so much more out there,” Raym says. “So I just wanted to give myself a chance to look and make sure
that I was doing what was going to be best for my future. But after all the visits to every school, nothing could topple the dream of mine and make me switch up from OU.”

Now that the decision is made and his future path is set, Raym is excited to enjoy his last few months of high school, which includes helping the Tigers take another shot at a state championship.

“It was a great experience, obviously, but it’s a new mindset. I don’t remember last year,” says Raym. “We’re ready to go win another one this year. We can’t let ourselves get caught up in the past.”