Spring Cleaning: Lee Gray

You have seen the commercials that feature the Maytag Repairman. He is depicted as a lonely man, because he doesn't get any calls due to Maytag's claims that their products last forever. When you are the backup to Robert Gallery, you might feel the same way. Lee Gray was that man in 2003, standing in the long shadow casted by Iowa's Outland Trophy winner. But it's now 2004, and Gallery will be playing on Sunday afternoons next year. And Gray is poised to be 'the man' at left tackle.

Lee Gray, OL, Junior (Bishop Dunne, Dallas Texas)

2004 VITALS: 6-foot-6, 315-pounds
2003 VITALS: 6-foot-6, 303-pounds
2001 VITALS: 6-foot-6, 270-pounds

The Skinny: Was an all state performer in high school on both the offensive and defensive side. Made the move from the defensive line in the Spring of 2003 and is the heir apparent to Robert Gallery to take over Iowa's left tackle position.

THE PAST: HIGH SCHOOL BIO:

High School Honors: Earned all-state honors on both offense and defense as a defensive end and tight end . . . named conference newcomer of the year as a junior . . . collected 74 tackles as a senior . . . caught 27 passes for 347 yards and six touchdowns his final year . . . team captain as a senior . . . district and team defensive MVP as a senior . . . did not play football until his junior year of high school . . . named Dallas-Ft. Worth all-star team captain . . .

Career - - lettered twice in football and basketball at Bishop Dunne . . . recorded over 100 career tackles and 15 QB sacks . . . best time of 4.8 seconds in the 40 yard dash . . . did not play football until junior year in high school.

Personal - - Born 12/3/82 . . . health & sport studies major . . . National Honor Society member . . . high school coach was Kenneth Davis, a nine-year NFL veteran.

HAWKEYE CAREER TO DATE

Gray redshirted in 2001 and saw action in just one game as a RS frosh in 2002, against Michigan State. He recorded one tackle. In the spring of 2003, Gray made the move to the offensive line and became Iowa's version of the Maytag Repairman; backing up eventual Outland Trophy winner Robert Gallery.

The Iowa coaches felt that Gray would be just an ‘OK' defensive tackle, but they felt that he could be a good to very good offensive lineman. As you read in his bio, he was an all state tight end and defensive end at the high school level, and he moves very, very well for a man of his size.

With long arms and good footwork, he quickly became a topic of conversation amongst those close to the Iowa football program after last spring and during the fall last year when he was getting back up reps.

SPRING 2004 STATUS:

Gray is the man at left tackle for Iowa, unless he gets injured. Though he is not exactly a seasoned veteran, he took to the tackle position in a hurry last year.

Privately, those close to the program feel that Lee Gray has a chance to be a the next great success story on the Hawkeye offensive line. He will likely share those honors with Pete McMahon this year, as McMahon was a former walk on and is on the verge of an NFL career. But Gray is another player that has changed positions for Iowa and is poised for greatness.

The Hawkeyes have done extremely well with identifying talent in the recruiting process and getting good athletes to campus. It's almost as if they go after versatile players and then worry about where to put them a year or two into their careers. So far, so good.

And it's hard to argue with their philosophy. Dallas Clark, Robert Gallery, Bruce Nelson, Eric Steinbach, Matt Roth, Jonathon Babineaux and others have switched positions in recent years and have seen their fortunes prosper after the change.

You are not going to find too many 315-pounders with Gray's athletic ability and quickness. Of course, those comments were lauded on Gallery, the man Gray learned from the last year. So it stands to reason that the cat-quick Gray will anchor the left side of the line for the next two years.

He will be playing alongside true soph Mike Jones, and everyone inside the program expects great things out of Jones. Jones could replace Gray at LT when he is a senior.

The aforementioned McMahon is the lone senior on Iowa's two-deep OL roster for next season, so if Gray and company can take the maturation steps that the coaches expect, the Iowa offense will be in good hands with the big uglies for the next two years to come, and possibly help an Iowa running back, or two, make a run at all America honors along the way.

THE FUTURE

Gray has NFL written all over him. It might sound like a stretch, since we have never really see him take many meaningful snaps. He saw some action against Illinois for a play or two when Gallery hyper extended his elbow. But Gray has the ‘combine-ability' that the NFL scouts will like, and after two years playing under the watchful eyes of Kirk Ferentz, Gray should continue the streak of Iowa offensive linemen being taken in the NFL draft.

Steinbach, Nelson and Sobieski were taken last year, Gallery will be drafted this year and Pete McMahon should be drafted next year if he stays healthy. That would be five in three years.

Gray, again, should he stay healthy, would be the 6th in four years if expectations are met. And that is not taking into account the strides that Blake Larsen, CJ Barkema and other juniors will make.

Then for the 2007 draft, Mike Jones and perhaps Chris Felder could be in the mix.

OL University, Iowa City, Iowa.


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