Ray Lawry might just be one reason why a lot of people are excited about the future of a young Old Dominion football program, but the sophomore running back is an awfully big reason.
After 68 years of not fielding a varsity football team, the school brought back the sport in 2009 and has since become one that is slowly climbing onto the national radar, largely due to players like Lawry. The New Jersey native put together a huge freshman season during ODU’s first romp in the FBS in 2014, rushing for 947 cards and 16 touchdowns on just 134 carries (led all FBS freshman with a 7.1 yards per carry average) in grabbing Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors. Lawry arrived in Norfolk as a three-star recruit from Kingsway Regional (Woolwich Township, NJ) and only needed that one year to prove he’s an elite playmaker in Conference USA.
We caught up with Lawry during fall camp and asked him a handful of questions about choosing ODU, reaching bowl eligibility in 2015 and a few off-the-field things:
Why did you pick Old Dominion?
I saw a bright future with Old Dominion football. I had a great relationship with the coaching staff and I knew they believed in me and I believed in them, too. They had a great recruiting class, we all got to know each other and recruited each other throughout the process. And it just felt like home.
What’s it like playing for not only a young program, but a young program that has also created tremendous success since the re-introduction of Old Dominion football in 2009.
It’s just great to be a part of it. People talk about how we’re young but we’re a growing program and we do nothing but win here. Again, it’s just great to be a part of the return of Old Dominion football, build something and make it big.
What are your plans for after college?
I do plan on playing professionally after college. I feel like it’s every player’s dream to play in the NFL, but I would also love to coach high school or college football, probably as a running backs coach.
What NFL running back do you enjoy watching the most or do you try to emulate your game after?
Definitely DeMarco Murray, but I also watch Reggie Bush a lot. I try to mold my game after him (Bush) because he has speed and can run through guys.
What is one part of your game you’ve been trying to work on in particular?
Shiftiness. I’ve been trying to get more flexible in my hips to make better cuts and reach the edge when necessary.
With a season under your belt and the team losing a handful of key players, what was this offseason like compared to last year?
I think I have more of a leadership role this year. I want to be the person working even harder than I was last year. I know the system, have a better relationship with my teammates and coaches. Last year I closely following the starters in front of me, doing exactly what they do, but now I feel like I can be the one leading by example.
Our goal this year is to win the conference and reach a bowl game. It sucks sitting at home in September watching teams that we’ve played compete in bowl games. We’ve been working extra hard in the weight room, in conditioning. The entire team knows where we want to be and that’s a bowl game.
Favorite TV show?
Favorite restaurant in Norfolk that everyone must try?
Chow. Very good restaurant.
Who’s the one guy on the team that’s always having a great time?
Jonathan Duhart (Sophomore – Wide Receiver)
Talk about the Old Dominion community and the type of support and excitement that surrounds this school and your program.
Yes, that’s another big reason why I picked Old Dominion. Before the game and during the stadium walk-in, it’s crazy all the fans supporting us, cheering us on. It’s just amazing to be a part of.
What is one thing even your closest teammates might be surprised to know about you?
I wasn’t even planning to play college football until my junior year of high school. I loved football but thought I would play basketball.