Johnathan Gray is fast. He rushed onto the field and established himself as the teams premier back and earned himself a starting role in 2013. He is the tip of the spear for the Longhorns three-headed running back attack who's only disadvantage was his size (he has worked hard during the off-season to change that).
Gray was heavily recruited, but nothing was handed to him. He had to earn his stripes. Once he started to touch the ball, he made the most of his chances and became the starter late in the season.
Gray led all Big 12 freshmen with 701 rushing yards while sharing the load with two other established backs. He goes into 2013 as the established starter. With his work ethic and god given talent, he should be recognized as one of the top backs in the country.
Here are the reasons that Johnathan Gray is headed for greatness.
Makes All the Plays
Gray is an every down back. That is what sets him apart from the other options at starter. (We concede that an argument can be made for Malcolm Brown's ability to start)
Simply put, Gray can make all the plays at running back. He is 5'11", over 200 pounds and strong and fast. That means he can get lost behind blockers and also utilize his low center of gravity, making him difficult to bring down. We already know he is a home run threat. This year, we expect to see some ground-and-pound as he makes the transition to feature back.
Grey is good out of the backfield and dangerous in the Wildcat formation. As a freshman, he hauled in 11 passes for 151 yards, 2 of which went for over 30 yards. He is a patient and decisive out of the Wildcat, especially considering that he had never run the formation before.
We are certain of one thing. Get the ball in his Gray's hand and good things will happen.
We know that Gray is an elite athlete. He has the 'talent and ability' departments taken care of. However, you have to be more than just a talented player. A player needs to have a strong work ethic to succeed and work ethic is Johnathan Gray's most impressive attribute.
Gray is dedicated, he works hard and is a student of the game. From the moment he stepped on campus players like Kenny Vaccaro and Mason Walters took notice. So did the fans as he went from third-string running back to the starter.
Adrian Peterson is supremely gifted, but coming back from an ACL injury to make a run at the NFL's single-season rushing record is a testament to his work ethic. As anyone that his been around him ... Gray has that same type of drive.
Johnathan Gray is a winner. It may sound strange, but knowing how to win is a trait. Johnathan Gray has proved throughout his career that he knows how to win, and that knowledge will allow him to become one of the greats.
He racked up 205 touchdowns in high school while running for over 10,000 yards. Impressive to say the least. However, lost in all these numbers are three consecutive state titles and eight touchdowns in championship games.
Gray had success against Oklahoma State in a come back win (45 fourth quarter yards) and 147 total yards in a big win against Texas Tech.
But Gray's saved his most impressive performance for the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State. Yes, we know, he finished with only 18 yards. But he was also responsible for two of the biggest plays, bailing out his quarterback on a 15 yard touchdown reception and converting on a 4th-and-1 on the game winning drive.
Those are the type of plays that winning teams have to make, and Gray has shown the poise to make them. With that he not only gives the Longhorns a top-tier talent, but he is the type of player that can deliver them back to BCS contention.
The Time is Now
Gray is the 'Horns' top back. He is on his way to being one of the greats.
Texas has focused on improving the offensive line play. Gray has worked hard this off-season and focused on improving himself. That means more running room for an improved player. That also means BIG trouble for opposing defenses.
We aren't saying that he will make a run at the Heisman. We are saying that the country will take notice and he will be in position for a high-profile junior season.
Source: Jack Shelton/Bleacher Report