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It was reported Friday evening Ohio State four-star offensive tackle commit Max Wray and his brother, Jake, had left the football team at Franklin (Tennessee) High School. No other details were provided in the initial report by the Williamson Herald, other than that neither Wray was on the bus as the team headed to its game at Spring Hill and both had left the team on their own accord.
Their father, Sam, immediately denied the reports, however, and told Eleven Warriors that he, Max, Jake and their mother, Stacy, were in the stands cheering on the Rebels.
Eleven Warriors has made several attempts to contact officials and coaches at Franklin and the Williamson County School District, but all messages left have gone unreturned. Director of communications Carol Birdsong declined to comment on the matter earlier this week, as she told The Herald, "We privacy obligations to the students under FERPA, [and] we cannot answer your questions."
FERPA is the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a law that gives parents certain protections with regard to their children’s education records, such as report cards, transcripts, disciplinary records, contact and family information, and class schedules.
Sam told Eleven Warriors on Wednesday why his sons did not play in Friday night’s game, and will not finish the season with the Rebels.
"The Wray family has done everything we can do to prevent this difficult situation. We have no choice, at this time, but to defend our children’s reputation," the elder Wray said. "Max and Jake did not quit the Franklin High Football team. This situation arose because we, as a family, became increasingly concerned that 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.
"An assistant coach apologized to Jake for the situation he had been put in by the staff, an apology that Coach Webb dismissed, saying, ‘Sometimes young coaches do stupid things," he continued. "We have tried for the last week to have this matter resolved privately and positively for all concerned. Instead, Max and Jake were suspended [from the team], further unjustifying punishment.
"We simply asked that the staff acknowledge that our concerns were being addressed and that Max and Jake were publicly exonerated from any wrongdoing and restored to good standing with the team," Wray concluded. "Unfortunately, our concerns and our proposal for resolution were met with belligerent denial by the staff and administration. Under these circumstances, Max and Jake wish their teammates nothing but success as they finish the season."
Max Wray, a four-star recruit in the Class of 2018, committed to Ohio State in April. This issue does not affect his standing with Ohio State. Jake, meanwhile, is a highly-touted offensive tackle recruit in his own right for the Class of 2020. He received an offer from the Buckeyes in March.
Franklin, coached by the aforementioned Webb, entered Friday night with a 1-7 record this season. The Rebels then beat the Raiders, 38-21, and will look to finish out the season with a win against Dickson County this weekend.