Former Callaway star returns home

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Daily News

When Quan Bray arrived at Callaway High in the fall of 2007, he joined a football program that was trying to find its footing.

Pete Wiggins was entering his third season as Callaway’s head coach, and while the program was on the rise, he’d yet to lead the team to a winning record.

With Bray’s help, that all changed during the 2007 season.

Bray stepped into the starting lineup as a freshman running back, and he helped the Cavaliers win eight games and reach the state playoffs.

During the next two seasons, Callaway went 20-5 and captured back-to-back region titles, and it made it to the state quarterfinals in 2009 after winning the first playoff game in school history a year earlier.

Bray ended up transferring to Troup for his senior season, and he exceled at his new school while leading the Tigers to the playoffs.

While Bray didn’t graduate from Callaway, the school has always been a special place for him, and he has remained close to the folks there.

So when Bray was looking for a place in Troup County to hold a youth football camp, he thought of Callaway, and with the assistance of Wiggins and others at the school, he was able to make it a reality.

On Saturday morning, through his Quan Bray All-Purpose Foundation, the former Callaway star was back on his old practice field for a free youth camp.

With the help of some of his peers in the football world, including former Carver High and Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, Bray led a three-hour camp, with hundreds of boys from the ages of 8 to 17 participating.

“It brings back a lot of memories, and I appreciate Callaway and coach Wiggins, and coach (Matt) Napier and everybody letting me put this together,” said Bray, who will be with the Buffalo Bills this season.

Among those instructors was Crowell, his cousin Dra Bray who also played at Callaway and is the new head coach at Unity Prep in LaGrange, former LaGrange High standout LaPerion Perry who is now playing at the University of West Georgia, as well as players and coaches at Callaway.

“Those guys came and showed the love they have for me, and I appreciate them,” Bray said. “It was great.”

Bray added that “it was real fun, just seeing the excitement in the kids, and seeing that they enjoyed it. That was the biggest thing was to just enjoy it. We got that accomplished.”

Bray has offered similar youth camps in the past, including one in Harris County last year.

He enjoys getting out on the field and running around with the campers and interacting with them.

Bray played quarterback during a scrimmage as the camp wound down, and he even ran a few pass patterns, and that was a thrill for the campers as they got to watch an NFL player show off his skills.

“You just engage with them,” Bray said. “That’s what it’s all about. I enjoyed it, and I think it was a successful day. I appreciate everybody who came out.”

One of those coaches who helped out during the camp was Matt Napier, who has been Callaway’s offensive coordinator since 2005 when Wiggins took over the program.

Bray ran for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman running back, and he had another big season as a sophomore before moving to quarterback as a junior where he was one of the state’s top two-way threats.

“When we got to Callaway, there was not a history to the program,” Napier said. “There were a lot of guys that started it, and he’s one of them. He started as a freshman, and then he came in and played quarterback and did what he did for our team and our football program. And then for him to go on and be successful, and come back and impact the community the way he has, it says a lot.”

Bray was one of the state’s most heavily recruited players, and he ended up signing with Auburn, and he enjoyed a successful four-year stint on The Plains.

Before Bray’s freshman season at Auburn, tragedy struck when his mother Tonya Bray was shot and killed.

Adding to the cruelness of the situation, Tonya Bray was killed by Quan’s father, Jeffrey Jones.

The following summer, Jeffrey Jones pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prision.

All of that took place a month from when Bray was supposed to report to Auburn and begin life as a college athlete, which is a challenging time in anyone’s life, regardless of the circumstances.

Earlier this summer during an interview with a Buffalo news station, Bray recounted what that horrifying moment was like for him when he learned he’d lost his mother.

“I just burst out in tears, started crying, because I thought my life was over with then,” Bray told WKBW. “I didn’t know what to do. I just lost my mom and my dad.”

While heart-broken, Bray persevered, and he went on to succeed at Auburn not just as a player, but as an all-around student.

“It happened for a reason, so I just use this, this life right here, this football life as a burden as far as my getaway, my freedom,” Bray said. “It was a tragic moment in my life, but, a lot of people would make that a downfall, make that an excuse. But, I don’t think that was meant for me to make an excuse. I think it was meant for me to keep pushing.”

Napier said Bray, with the way he didn’t let a tragedy define him, serves as an excellent role model for any players who may be dealing with things in their life.

“It’s unbelievable,” Napier said. “We talk to these kids all the time about overcoming adversity, and about how fumbling the ball on a Friday night may be one thing, and at the moment it may be devastating, but then you look at the things that Quan has had to go through and overcome, and the maturity he’s had to have to overcome the things he has in his life, and the character that he’s shown.”

Napier added that “the kid doesn’t get in trouble. He’s practically been a father figure to Jymere (Jones), his younger brother who plays for us. He’s just a special kid. His heart’s in the right place, and he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s grown up so much. It makes your heart full to see a guy succeed like that.”

OF NOTE: For more photos from the camp, check out