Bloomington, Ind. – Wondering where the IU football staff will be this week?
Try Ben Davis High School, home of one of the Hoosiers' top 2008 recruiting priorities, quarterback Marqueis Gray. After all, IU was the first to offer the 6-4, 215-pounder junior, having done so at the close of its 7-on-7 summer camp last summer.
Of course, Indiana's efforts with Gray won't wrap up with one trip to the Indianapolis high school. Whether it's Billy Lynch or is father Bill or maybe even IU head coach Terry Hoeppner, they've made it pretty clear just how big of a priority Gray is to them.
"Someone from Indiana has been in our building every week," said Ben Davis H.S. Coach Tom Allen. "To me, that shows a tremendous commitment on their part. I've been impressed by that, and I think that's something the kid realizes – hey, these guys really want me."
It's easy to see why the Hoosiers are so enamored with Gray. He's coming off a big junior season, competing 73-of-140 passes for 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns for a Ben Davis squad that went 9-4. In addition, the mobile signal caller rushed for 603 yards and another seven scores.
"He's pretty versatile, and that's what makes him such a strong prospect," Allen said. "He can run it and throw it well, and everyone likes tall quarterbacks who can do those things. That's what sets him apart."
Gray is already emerging as a national recruiting target, having recently been one of a select number of 2008 players invited to attend the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio. Despite that early notoriety, Allen still thinks Gray has areas that he can get better at.
"The biggest right now is learning the game, reading coverages, and that's a natural progression for high school quarterbacks," Allen said. "He's good at getting to the line and recognizing how many safeties they've got and reading the fronts to know where to check our running game. But once the ball is snapped, reading coverages and knowing where to throw the ball.
"The other thing is just confidence. I think he's a kid that needs to believe in himself. He's played well in big games, but I want him to play his very best on the biggest stage, and that's the next step he has to take to be a great quarterback."
While Indiana is the only school to offer to date, that will likely change in the not-too-distant future. Allen said Louisville, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Cincinnati and Kentucky are among the programs that have shown plenty of interest, and more scholarship offers could come in the next couple of weeks.
It figures to be a major-league recruiting battle for Gray, but Indiana appears to be well positioned to be a major player. First of all, Indiana was the first to show interest and subsequently offer, and that's something Allen believes is very important.
"Something we tell our kids is you want to go somewhere that they really want you the most," Allen said. "(Indiana) is definitely doing that right now."
Allen also thinks assistant coach Billy Lynch – who is IU's primary in-state recruiter – has already building a strong relationship with Gray. He had a chance to do that during last year's 7-on-7 camp, and Allen believes Lynch is the sort of recruiter who players can relate to.
"(Lynch) is young, and he knows how to communicate with them and talk to them at a level they understand," Allen said. "The recruiting process is about building relationships, and the kid has to feel comfortable. So often you hear people say they went somewhere because it felt right, and a big part of that is the people that are there and the ones that are recruiting you."
Indiana also figures to have an ally in Allen as well. While the Ben Davis coach has stressed to Gray that he should take his time, ask plenty of questions, and consider all of his options, he admits he'd love to see the signal caller wind up in Bloomington.
"We're encouraging him to explore his options," Allen said. "But I'm partial to Indiana schools. I believe in supporting Indiana as a state. I'd love to see him go to IU, because I love what they are doing. I love Coach Hoeppner, I love what he stands for, I think he's doing things the right way, and they're going to win."
IU Well Positioned with Gray?
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