With the entire Pitt offensive line potentially leaving the program following the 2022 season, while it’s currently a very, very deep group, an injection of youthful talent is always needed. And the current class has delivered.
Pitt has secured four offensive linemen in the class of 2023 about halfway through July now, after signing just two in the previous cycle, and one of the biggest — literally — is three-star offensive tackle Tai Ray from Apopka High School in Apopka, Florida.
According to Andrew Ivins, 247Sports’ Florida recruiting analyst, Ray might actually be Pitt’s most under-the-radar commitment of the group. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound left tackle is already enormous, but he’s a rising recruit that still has the chance to hone his body and develop into a mauling tackle.
“Tai Ray really kind of exploded after he went to that Florida State mega camp and turned some heads,” Ivins told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “What I like about him is the multi-sport profile, this is a 6-foot-6, 300-pound kid that also plays lacrosse. He’s got an 84-inch wingspan. I think that’s a nice find for Pittsburgh and someone that can continue to draw college interest.”
With prototypical size, perhaps even greater than prototypical size considering just how big Ray already is as a rising high school senior, it’s easy to see the appeal in his high school film. Ray screams potential, and even if he isn’t one of early contributors at Pitt, a year of working in the weight room and learning under Dave Borbely should develop a big, strong contributor in Pitt’s two-deep.
And in playing for Apopka, all across the line for the Blue Darters throughout his junior season, Ray’s combination of size and toughness is tough to replicate.
“Apopka, that’s a hard-nosed program there in central Florida,” Ivins said. “They’re gonna have a kid drafted in (Georgia defensive tackle) Jalen Carter this upcoming year. You go to a practice there, it’s a lot of Oklahoma drills, and they’ve just got a tougher breed of kids.”
247Sports rates Ray as the 1,287th-ranked recruit in the class (113th-ranked offensive tackle and the 181st-ranked recruit from Florida) while On3 rates him as the 1,287th-ranked recruit in the class (90th-ranked offensive tackle and the 182nd-ranked recruit from Florida). Rivals hasn’t rated him yet — although he does hold a 5.5 Rivals Rating.
As one of four offensive line commits, with the chance to add one more in the weeks and months to come, Ray is part of a class that weighs a combined 1,195 pounds. And all four linemen stand at least 6-foot-5. It’s a big, big group, and Ray is a big, big commit.