Melvin Ray's TD catch late in the fourth quarter helped send Auburn past Jacksonville State last Saturday
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Melvin Ray is a senior at Auburn in more ways than one. The former baseball minor leaguer is 26 years old, has played college football for four seasons, was last seen catching a clutch touchdown pass late in regulation that helped the Tigers beat Jacksonville State last Saturday.
This Saturday, the veteran will help Auburn's young players through the mystery of Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge in a Top 25 game against LSU.
Ray's words of advice: "You just slow the game down in your mind and spend a lot of time preparing for it in your mind before we get there, just visualizing the plays you want to make. When that happens you'll be prepared for it. Just slow the game down, and at the end of the day, make sure you smile and have fun. It's football."
Auburn's secondary is particularly young with three true freshman and a sophomore receiving extended playing time for the first time. Fourteen true and redshirt freshmen played in the opener. Ten players became first-time starters through the first two games.
Auburn, 2-0, faces 1-0 LSU at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
"It's going to be fun," Ray said. "We know we're going to get doing down there in that kind of environment. It's tough to play there, but it's fun. That's what football is all about."
Ray caught three passes last Saturday in a game in which eight Auburn players had receptions, including Ricardo Louis, who had 10.
Ray has made big plays before. He's been in it for the long haul.
"This is my senior season, I just have to take every opportunity I can, and make the best of it," he said. "I don't want to come off the field if I don't have to. As long as I can play, I will. This is my last go-around."
Another senior receiver, Duke Williams, will be playing close to his Louisiana home.
"That's his home... somewhere inside him it means a lot to him," Ray said. "We haven't really spoken on it. But I can tell you as far as being around him, he is focused and locked in."
Ray said Auburn will arrive in a good spot.
"We're actually a very close group as a team, we're really close. From offense to defense, together, we're really close guys. We've got a lot of new pieces to the puzzle and a lot of guys doing different things. We've just got to find it."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine