FLC football recruits a Ray of hope

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file photo

Fort Lewis College will line up with at least three new recruits to start the John L. Smith head coaching era. FLC announced the signings of three down linemen Wednesday, including two reverse transfers from Division I schools.

Herald Staff Report

Former Fort Lewis College head football coach Cesar Rivas-Sandoval and his coaching staff left a final parting gift – a recruiting class, a small recruiting class, albeit a strong recruiting class.

Of course, eventually that will have to be determined on the field, but on paper, the Skyhawks’ 2013 recruiting class reads two Division I reverse transfers and a junior college recruit.

For the second year in a row, FLC football picked up a former Michigan State product, and this one is a cancer survivor with an impressive résumé on the football field.

Arthur Ray, a 6-3, 300-pound guard, appears to be at the head of this class. The other two FLC recruits: Christopher Friesen, a 6-5, 275-pound offensive lineman from Utah State and C.J. Anderson, a 6-3, 290-pound defensive lineman from Phoenix College.

“The signing class will be limited in numbers, but the recruiting will continue,” new head coach John L. Smith said in a news release to The Durango Herald. Smith inherits Sandoval’s recruiting class and doesn’t officially begin his new post until March 1.

“Even though our signing class is very limited, that class will continue to grow and develop as we get through spring ball into the summertime. We are not stopping recruiting with what we have to sign. There will be an addition of a lot more kids to next year’s roster.

“It’s quality – very, very quality in the few numbers that we have,” said Smith, a former Big 10 Coach of the Year (2003) at Michigan State. “We expect that quality to grow as well as the numbers to grow.”

Ray, because of his pedigree, is the most intriguing prospect of the three. He was one of the nation’s most highly touted recruits out of Mount Carmel High School in Chicago.

Ray was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he signed his national letter of intent to play for Michigan State in February 2007. He’s undergone nine surgeries and four bone grafts to treat a cancerous tumor on the mid shift of his left leg since. He started one game for the Spartans and played in two others in 2011.

He spent two years on crutches and earned his bachelor’s degree last year in communications. He’ll work toward a second degree in exercise science-sport administration at FLC.

“Arthur gives us a big, athletic, experienced-at-the-DI-level lineman,” Smith said of Ray, whose signing Sandoval largely credited to FLC assistant coach Brad Wilson. “He not only adds size but a lot of athleticism to our football team. We’re very excited about him. He’s going to help us a bunch.”

Ray and last year’s Michigan State reverse transfer, wide receiver Jordan Benton, spent time rehabbing together while members of the Spartans’ program, Sandoval said.

Friesen played on Utah State’s practice squad for the last three years.

“Chris brings us an experienced Division I player who provides us the size and athleticism that we’re looking for on our offensive front,” Smith said.

Anderson was a two-year starter at Phoenix College.

“Defensive linemen are and will continue to be a premium for us,” Smith said. “C.J. is capable as well of being an offensive lineman should we ever need to make that move.”

heraldsports@durangoherald.com

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