Many BYU fans still remember the on-field prowess of former BYU Cougars defensive back Derwin “Dewey” Gray, who roamed the Cougar backfield at LaVell Edwards Stadium from 1989-92. The next generation is now stepping up in his son Jeremiah Gray.
“I think it was January 21st they offered me a scholarship,” said Jeremiah Gray. “It means that a lot of my hard work is being recognized. Getting an offer from BYU is an awesome feeling. You can look at my dad and he’s smiling about it. It’s an unexplainable feeling to be honest with you. To get an offer from any school is really huge for me, but it’s even more special to get an offer from the school where my dad played at.”
The Gray family had decided to prolong the announcement of the BYU offer to ensure Jeremiah wouldn’t be distracted. However, his father Derwin felt his son was mature enough to handle the spotlight.
“Kalani offered him on January 21st of this year but we kept it quiet,” said father and former BYU Cougar, Derwin Gray. “The reason we kept it quiet is because I wanted Jeremiah to focus more on the things he needed to do academically and also athletically. After the incredible spring he had, and after he was one of the top performers at Football University Camp here in Charlotte, with his athletic ability with his size and speed and length kind of let the genie out of the bottle. I felt that he was mature enough to handle the attention, because where much is given much is required. So, yeah, Coach Kalani [Sitake] offered him in January and we’re now making it known.”
The fact that head coach Kalani Sitake recognized Jeremiah Gray’s potential and talents early in the process is a vindication to Derwin Gray that BYU has a head coach has a keen eye for recognizing talent.
“Kalani is a great evaluator of talent and often times before others can see it,” said Derwin Gray. “When you have a kid that is 6-1, 187-pounds that can run and jump and has the length that [Jeremiah] has, you are projecting what he can be in the future. We understand as a sophomore [in high school], he’s not going to play like I played as a senior at BYU.
“He has a wealth of talent that’s going to take time to be worked out and coached. Speaking not only as his dad, but as his safety coach in high school, Jeremiah has the tools to be a really good player. The great thing is, you have a young man with a very strong will, a great work ethic, and a great skill-set, so I think his sophomore year is going to be really good. I think he’s going to help his team tremendously, but I think his junior and senior years of high school it could be illegal how good he’s going to be.”
Just like his father before him, Jeremiah Gray also plays free safety and can also compete successfully at the cornerback position as well.
“I play defensive back, particularly free safety,” Jeremiah said. “I can play cornerback too, but my team needs me to play free safety more than corner. As for my game, I try to focus more on being a ballhawk and getting interceptions because that can be a game-changer.”
Much of Jeremiah’s skill-set development has come from being coachable and having a father who understands how to play the game. Jeremiah Gray feels it’s a blessing to have a father who has played both college and NFL football be his position coach at the high school level.
“Honestly, it’s a huge blessing to have a father with such knowledge, but more importantly to have a father who invests a lot of time and effort in me to make me a better player,” said Jeremiah Gray. “That’s really the biggest blessing. You know, he’s really picky about my technique, which is good. That’s how my technique has gotten really good. He’s also helped me to see the game from a different perspective. The free safety position, which is what he played in college, is kind of like the quarterback of the defense.”
While attending BYU, Derwin Gray married former BYU track athlete Vicki Ensign in 1992, the same year he was up for the Jim Thorpe Award. Jeremiah Gray, who at the age of 14 could dunk a basketball and credits both his mother and father for his physical attributes.
“I’m only 15 and could dunk a basketball at 14,” Jeremiah said. “The height is from my mom’s side of the family, but the fast twitch is definitely from my dad’s side of the family.”
“The dunks that he’s doing now I couldn’t do in my prime when I was in the NFL and I had a 38 inch vertical,” said Derwin Gray. “It’s pretty cool to see how he responds to coaching and how he responds to resiliency, so this year is going to be a great year of maturation academically and athletically. What I’m proud of is every team he plays on, whether football or basketball, he will [be up for] the MVP character award as well. Jeremiah makes me want to be a better father and a better man.”
Now that Jeremiah Gray has a BYU scholarship offer in hand, continuing to work hard both on and off the field is the focus.
“This offer not only motivates me but it helps me to see what I can become,” said Gray. “I’m going to work hard in the classroom to get the highest GPA I can, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. You have to have those glimpses of motivation to keep doing what you’re doing, and the offer from BYU has helped me do that.”
And for his father Derwin, he couldn’t be more proud of a son who now has a chance to follow in his footsteps to BYU if he so chooses. It’s a rare, but special, bonding moment enjoyed between father and son.
“As his dad I’m incredibly thankful because BYU played such an instrumental part in my life in becoming the man that I am,” Derwin Gray said. “I mean, Coach Edwards took a chance on me because I didn’t pass my ACT until after I signed for my scholarship. I met my wife, who was on the track team, there at BYU. For Coach Kalani Sitake to recognize Jeremiah’s talents and potential and extend an offer is a proud moment for me. I’m thankful. It’s one of those cool dad moments I can have with my son.”