Joel Gray is a standout lineman prospect from Hebron High School in Lewisville, TX. The 4-star recruit earned All-District honors as a sophomore, and as a junior was recognized as second team All-State after a strong 2007 season as he led his team to the 4th round of 5A state playoffs. Gray's size and athleticism has led to 23 offers from schools all over the nation.
"Recruiting has been going pretty well. After the spring evaluation period the offers started rolling in. I feel pretty fortunate that I have the opportunity to get all of these offers. I'm up to 23 now from schools like Texas Tech, Stanford, UCLA, Ole Miss, Louisville, Arizona, Oregon and Nebraska to name a few. Florida State just offered but I am not counting it until I get the offer in my hands."
"I think my footwork, work ethic and leadership have led me to all of these offers. I've been voted team captain for the past 2 years and I play with a mean streak. Other than that I have no idea why I am getting all these offers (laughs)."
The 6'7" 278 pound tackle says that the offer from Florida State is a big one for him. At this time he has not gotten the chance to speak to any of the Seminole coaches, but says that is only a matter of time. Growing up Gray remembers watching Chris Weinke and Peter Warrick dominate college football, and he feels honored that FSU has given him a scholarship.
"FSU is definitely in the picture. I remember growing up watching guys like Weinke and Warrick play; I have always liked them. It is a big time school and they have a great program. Once I come into contact with the coaches and learn and understand what they're doing and looking for, then I will be able to get the feel from them."
"The staff found out about me from a guy named Will Lyles. He is cool with the coaches and told them about me. They saw me and said they were going to offer me so that is how it started."
Gray said that he doesn't plan on making any camp visits this summer because he is still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered about a year ago. He says he's close to getting 100% but he doesn't want to tweak anything as he heads into his senior season.
"I am really trying to work on my strength this summer, especially in my legs. I bench 300 pounds and squat 415, but I need to get that better. I hurt my ACL last May so I've been working on that. When I got cleared last year I played 11 straight games so I never got a chance to really strengthen my leg. Now I have that opportunity and that's what I am doing. I plan on making unofficial visits instead of camps because I don't want anything to happen before my season starts."
Joel is open to the process at this time and says he never really had a favorite team as a kid. He's taking a visit to Texas Tech this weekend and then plans on heading out west to see a few schools there. Later in the summer he'll head east to see the schools he likes there.
"This weekend I am going to visit Texas Tech, and then next week I am going to visit Stanford and UCLA. In late July/early August I am going out east to see the schools I like there. I am trying to keep an open mind with this so I want to see as many schools this summer as I can."
Gray is planning on ending his process before September, thus the reason why his visits this summer are so important to him. He says he'll be looking for 3 things from these schools, and the one's that match those attributes will be in the thick of things for him as he makes his decision.
"The big thing I am looking for is comfort. I was born and raised in North Dallas and I've been here my whole life. I want to make sure I can live somewhere for 5 years. Next, I want to have a great relationship with the coaches and players. I've been building relationships with the coaches that have offered me so far. I probably talk to them twice a month. I'm doing that because I haven't started to narrow it down yet. Lastly I am looking for good academics. That will always be part of the picture."
"I want to commit before September so these visits are important to me so I can make that decision. I don't want to take this into my season."
Florida State has just entered the picture for Gray, but once he speaks to the coaches look for the Seminoles to become a team Joel is interested in. Getting the standout lineman in for a visit is paramount if the Noles hope to land the lineman's commitment. Stay tuned to NoleDigest for further updates with Joel and the rest of the 2009 recruiting class.