COLUMBIA — Look at those moves! Check out those hips! It's an impromptu post-drill dance party — with Shane Ray taking center stage.
As the defensive linemen finished a drill at Wednesday's fall camp practice, the big guys struck up a chorus: The Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)."
"Everybody. Yeah, yeah. Rock your body. Yeah, yeah."
And there was Ray, in the middle of the pack of linemen, his hands over his head, rocking his hips with the smoothness of a professional Hula-Hoop-er.
Ray's teammates backed him up on the vocals as the prolific pass rusher gyrated to and fro.
It's a safe bet that opposing quarterbacks would rather meet Ray on the dance floor as opposed to the backfield, where in 2013 — with limited playing time — the defensive end racked up 4.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss and 11 quarterback pressures. And though the Tigers star looks at home on the field, he hinted that he's less comfortable on the dance floor. But fear not: Ray said he and the D-line might show off some more dance moves at Thursday's practice.
The junior defensive end said quickness is essential to being an effective pass rusher.
"It's all about your first step ... being able to get off the ball before the offensive lineman gets out of his stance is always great, because a speed guy like me, I'm able to turn the corner and get to the quarterback," he said.
But Ray laughed when he talked about his first step at the dance club.
"I feel like I'm too big to be that guy on the dance floor bustin' a move, but I'll go and just relax and just have a good time," he said.
Too big to bust a move? Hardly — especially after watching him and fellow D-linemen enjoy a bit of downtime at practice.
"I got a couple of moves," Ray said. "You guys (the media) caught me trying to get my young guys moving... just bringing a little fun to the D-line, that's what I try to do. You know, you catch me doing a couple of moves, I might show you a little something sometime."
That "sometime" may be sooner than you think.
"Thursday is D-line day for dance and song day," Ray said. "So we're definitely gonna pull out some stops for everybody, show y'all what we're working with."
There's no telling what the players might dance to — music selections have ranged from songs by The Game to AC/DC to The Adam Ferguson and Friends Project. But hopes are high for some D-line, a cappella cover-song crooning — with Shane Ray showing off some more moves.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.