Although there was no formal announcement, defensive end LaBryan Ray's career at Alabama formally came to an end this week when he accepted an invitation to play in the upcoming East-West Shrine Bowl.
Ray was considered a top prospect in 2017, rated by some recruiting services as being a five-star prospect and perhaps the top player in the state that year. However, he had an injury-plagued four years at Alabama mostly due to foot problems.
He played in the final 13 games this past season as a redshirt senior with two starts. He notched 11 tackles, including three for loss and one sack, and also contributed four quarterback hurries.
"He’s a great part of our defense," safety Jordan Battle said during his past season. "You know, LaBryan has a lot of experience here at Alabama. He’s a great rusher. When he’s in the game, he’s a great leader for the front. And when he’s in the game, it’s a big part of our defense. We know with him being in the game that we’re just fine."
"LaBryan’s just, he keep working hard, whatever adversity he’s faced with, he steps up to the challenge," running back Brian Robinson Jr. said. "He does everything he need to do to get back on the field. I’ve came a long way with LaBryan. I’ve been on LaBryan since high school and we came in here together and his journey has been amazing, also. It’s exciting just to see it all unfold for him."
Despite the extra year of eligibility, Ray's departure is not a surprise. He participated in the Crimson Tide's Senior Day ceremony during the regular-season finale at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Shrine Bowl, a college football all-star game showcase for NFL scouts and team officials, will be played Feb. 3 in Las Vegas.
In a change this year, the rosters will not be divided geographically.
"In an effort to better allow for players to showcase their ability at their future NFL position and scheme, we will be dividing up our East and West roster by NFL personnel groupings," organizers posted on the Shrine Bowl website.
Also: "The East-West Shrine Bowl will no longer be hosting a weigh-in event that is viewed by NFL personnel and media for players. The weigh-in process is a valuable component in assessing player body types, key to the scouting process, but we feel it no longer needs to happen as a public spectacle.
"Instead, players will be weighed and measured as a part of their check-in process when they arrive in Las Vegas. Our plan is for the weigh-in process to be recorded for record and sent to all NFL personnel for their verification shortly after completion."
Ray is the lone Crimson Tide player in this year's game.