Impact Freshman - Johnathan Gray

Continuing our look around the Big 12 at the freshman prospects most likely to make an impact with each team, next takes a look at a loaded University of Texas class - particularly five-star running back Johnathan Gray and how he can help the Longhorns in 2012.

(Part of a series posted by Kansas affiliate

Picking a freshman to make an immediate impact for the University of Texas should be easy, at least on the surface.

After all, their annual list of signees positively glitters with recruiting stars, and the Class of 2012 is no different. This year, the Longhorns signed five 5-star prospects and another 14 four-stars. Included among them are the number one defensive tackle, the number two running back and offensive guard, and the number three wide receiver. And that's just for starters.

But for a team as offensively challenged as the Longhorns were at times in 2011, the impact prospect has to be Johnathan Gray.

A native of Aledo, Texas, the 6-foot-11, 195-pound speedster is one of the most prolific running backs not just in Texas high school history, but national history as well. In the words of national recruiting analyst Greg Powers, he is a touchdown machine.

Texas already possesses two outstanding workhorses in sophomores Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, but they're losing the home-run ability of graduating senior Fozzie Whitaker. Gray won't get the workload a premiere back typically warrants, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. By keeping him fresh and strong Mack Brown will always have that massive bullet in the chamber ready to break one open on third down, or help put a game away in the fourth quarter.

The Longhorns have issues at quarterback, and fellow freshman Conner Brewer may challenge for playing time. But their running game should be strong enough to help ease whoever is under center into the rigors of a new Big 12 schedule - and Gray will be a big part of their attack. Top Stories