Max and Jake Wray did not play the final two games this season for their Franklin High School team in Tennessee.
Max, an offensive lineman and 2018 Ohio State commitment, and Jake, a 2020 OL target, were not injured. Their absence was shrouded in mystery until the Wray family issued a statement that said, in part, “The coaching staff has created an environment in which players’ health and safety is not the first priority. We expressed to the school administration our concern that the culture was creating a perverse incentive for players to conceal injuries, including in particular concussions.”
This week, Sam Wray, the boys’ father, shed more light on the matter. He said that Jake suffered a concussion. When he finished his concussion protocol, Sam said, he was told he had to compete to regain his starting spot.
“I had to get involved and explain to them that’s not a reason he should lose his job,” Sam Wray said. “You shouldn’t shame a kid for having a brain injury that he can’t control.”
Get the latest Buckeye football news. Sign up for the BuckeyeXtra newsletter.
He said the coaching staff acted punitively in response.
“I think a parent should be able to voice a concern without the kids being punished,” Sam Wray said.
The concussion issue wasn’t the only one the Wrays had.
“It’s a long story,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say about it. It was one concern of many that we expressed in writing to the administration. The concerns have still not been addressed.”
Another parent of a former Franklin player, Peter Batarseh, said that the Wray matter was “the tip of the iceberg” and that the coaching situation there had created a “toxic environment.”
Citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Williamson County Schools spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said in an email she could not answer questions about the Wrays. She wrote that no concern was raised to the Franklin High School administration until Oct. 24.
Sam Wray said that Max was hurt by the way his season ended.
“He’s a closer,” he said. “He wanted to finish his senior season well. To be accused of quitting when that wasn’t true was very personally stressing for him.”
The Wrays are already looking forward. Max, Jake and their mom, Stacy, attended the Penn State game.
“They came back ecstatic,” Sam Wray said. “Ohio State has talent falling off the trees.”
After Max graduates in December — Sam said his son has a 4.0 GPA — he will enroll at Ohio State in January after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
He said the Buckeyes have been fully supportive throughout their ordeal.
“The relationship with Ohio State is very solid,” Sam Wray said. “There are no problems there.”
Max is working with a personal trainer with the hope that he will arrive ready to battle for playing time as a tackle.
“He’s 6-feet-7 and 294 pounds and can run like a cat,” Sam Wray said. “(But) I think what makes Max different than most players is his ability to comprehend the mental side of it. He’s got like a photographic memory. He can absorb plays very quickly.”
He said Max also has a short memory, enabling him to put bad plays behind him. That could also apply to the difficult end to his high school career.
“We’re excited for him to move on to the next level,” Sam Wray said.