Varsity Preps

Ray Ray McCloud III: Catch Him If You Can

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Florida is known for consistently producing some of the best high school football talent in the country, and four-star athlete Ray Ray McCloud III is one of The Sunshine State’s crown jewels.

The 2015 stud out of Sickles High (Tampa) currently ranks in at 232 on the ESPN 300 list and has more than 40 offers on the table. He’s ridiculously shifty and fast, often drawing comparisons to NFL running backs Chris Rainey and Reggie Bush.

McCloud rushed for an astounding 2316 yards and 26 touchdowns in his junior season, but his sophomore season was just as impressive for a different reason. He racked up 1319 yards and 12 scores in his sophomore campaign, playing most of the season with an injured leg.

“I basically ran on one leg in my sophomore year,” McCloud said. “I couldn’t plant off my left leg and I was limping on it. I didn’t miss any time until the last game of the season. I didn’t even notice, but one of my legs was way bigger than the other one. The doctors told me I couldn’t play.”

Even though he wasn’t 100 percent healthy, schools were still taking notice. UMass was the first school to offer McCloud and many more have offered since. He received several offers during a bus tour with his 7-on-7 team in the summer before his junior season, which marked the beginning of his recruiting boom.

“I got offers from every school we went to on the bus tour, plus several others,” he said. “Louisville, Tennessee, Vandy and Clemson were some of the schools that offered. Then Oregon, Ohio State and Notre Dame offers came at rare times, they were just out the blue.”

A commitment isn’t in the near future for McCloud, as he plans to take plenty of visits to weigh out his options. Florida, USC, Miami, Clemson, UCLA, Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State are among the schools he plans to check out in the summer.

Another big trip McCloud has lined up for the summer is traveling up to Nike World Headquarters in Oregon for The Opening to compete with some of the nation’s best players.

“I felt really blessed,” McCloud said of being invited to The Opening. “Not everyone gets this opportunity; I’m very humbled by it. I’m going to go up there and have fun. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

McCloud is a special talent. On the field, all it takes is the smallest hole for the 5-10, 175-pounder to squeeze through to leave defenders chasing a blur. And if there isn’t a hole, McCloud creates one by juking and spinning in Playstation-like fashion to give himself some daylight. More often than not, it works.

When asked about his favorite player, McCloud immediately answered, “Walter Payton,” which is a big reason why he dons the 34 jersey on Friday nights.

“I just love (Payton’s) passion for the game, and he was my dad’s favorite player,” McCloud said. “My little brother wears 34, and I wear 34. It’s just a family thing.”

Look for Number 34 to make plenty of plays in his final high school season and keep a lookout for him on your televisions on Saturdays. He’s a weapon on offense and also a solid defensive back, making him a nightmare on both sides of the ball.

Ray Ray McCloud’s Highlights:




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