Top prospect Shane Ray cited for possession of marijuana

Former Missouri Tigers defensive end/outside linebacker Shane Ray, a projected early-round pick in this week's NFL draft, was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of marijuana and a traffic violation early Monday in Missouri.

Ray was pulled over for speeding while driving westbound on Interstate 70 at 5:46 a.m., according to Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. Scott White. According to White, the officer detected the smell of fresh -- not burning -- marijuana and, after conducting a search, found a "personal amount" in one of the car's compartments.

White said Ray, who identified himself to the patrol officer as the Missouri football player, was cooperative and showed no signs of impairment. He was cited for misdemeanor possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana as well as failure to drive in the right lane of the highway. He also was issued a warning for speeding. Ray was not taken into custody; because he was not impaired, he was allow to drive from the scene.

He has been ordered to appear in court in Cooper County on June 30.

Ray apologized in a statement released late Monday night.

"I'd like to apologize to my Mother, Fans and prospective NFL teams for my poor judgement Monday morning," Ray said in the statement. "I am embarrassed and realize there are consequences for my actions. I was not under the influence nor impaired, therefore I was not detained. Fortunately, Monday's incident only resulted in a citation. I will make better choices in the future.

"It is imperative that I continue to strive to better myself. My future NFL career has been something I have always dreamed about and is very important to me. I commit that my actions will represent that. There are no excuses here and I will take the necessary steps to ensure this will not happen again. I will not jeopardize my ability to have a positive impact on and off the field moving forward."

Reports surfaced last week that Ray might need toe surgery, but he told ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen that teams have been informed he just needs to "take it easy through rookie camp and continue to focus on rehab and healing." Scouts Inc. ranks Ray as the 17th overall prospect in the draft.

Ray started all 14 games for the Tigers in 2014, registering 61 tackles and 14 sacks.

He was ejected from the 2014 SEC championship game against Alabama for targeting. He appeared to hit Alabama quarterback Blake Sims' face mask with his helmet and hands as Sims was in a prone position after throwing a 58-yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in the second quarter.

ESPN.com Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure contributed to this report.