FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Chicago's O'Hare Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, but with the hustle and bustle there often comes problems. Take Chicago Mount Carmel offensive guard Arthur Ray Jr.'s trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl for example.
Ray was supposed to be one of the first players to arrive on the game, catching an early morning flight on Saturday out of O'Hare. Instead, he didn't arrive until early morning on Sunday because of delays and mechanical errors.
"I got up at 5 o'clock and on the way out the door I got a call from AirTran telling me my flight is being canceled," Ray said. "They said there was a malfunction with the plane. I don't think the plane was functioning right. Then the lady told me the soonest they could get me here was (Sunday). I said 'Oh, man, I'll miss everything.' I knew there had to be something else, and the lady said there was a 7:53 p.m. flight that would get me in at 12:32 a.m.
"We didn't end up getting here until 3:30 a.m. because of delays. I was running on fumes the first day."
But the long trip was well worth it, he said. Ray is ranked as the No. 55 offensive guard in the nation, and he hopes to better his stock with a strong showing at practices all week and in the game that's at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday and broadcast live on ESPNU.
"It was good to get back in the pads for the first time since November and getting to go against those fast D-linemen," Ray said. "I just want to test myself against the best people in the nation. I'm trying to single myself out as one of the top offensive lineman in the nation. I have something to prove, so I jumped at the chance to play in this game."
Ray said he's already made some good new friends. He's also butted heads with a few of the defensive linemen. Both are things that he said will make him better.
"Me and Kerry Murphy have a rivalry going on," Ray said. "Every time I go up against him, we go at it. He wants a piece of me every time, but I got the best of him, too, though. I won a few, he won a few."
As the only player from Illinois, Ray said he carries with him a sense of responsibility. He wants to make sure that the Land of Lincoln and Chicagoland is well represented. That's why he's giving 110 percent effort in practice.
"I'm the only guy from Illinois, so I have to hold it down for Illinois," he said. "I have to show everybody how we do it up there."
Ray is a very soft Boston College commitment. In fact, it's kind of hard to call him committed because he's still not heard a thing from the new Eagle coaching staff.
"I'm still somewhat a soft commitment," he said. "It's a soft verbal. Nobody has still even contacted me from BC. Not even the new coaches, and now some other schools are starting to get up there. I heard from Billy Bennett that he also hadn't even heard from the coaches. It concerns me. Man, I don't even know what to say."
Ray has already taken an official visit to Illinois, and he's slated to take visits on Jan. 5 to N.C. State and Michigan State on Jan. 12.
"I'm going down on an official to N.C. State right when we get back from here," he said. "I know they beat BC. My dad wanted me to check out some of the Southern schools. I'm going to Michigan State on Jan. 12. Dan Roushar is my recruiter, and I kind of like him. Illinois is still up there, too."