Detroit Country Day tailback Jonas Gray is no stranger to hard work. One look at his chiseled frame is all that is needed to understand that he has spent a great deal of time in the weight room. Back in July, GoBlueWolverine caught up with him while he was working on his speed with former Michigan fullback and respected trainer, Stan Edwards. That hard work paid off on the football field where he increased his production from 797 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore, to 1,252 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. Gray was bigger, faster, and more explosive in 2006 and his showing at the Army junior combine in San Antonio was further proof of that.
"It went real well," Gray said regarding his time in Texas. "I ran a 4.53 in the forty. I'm not sure what my shuttle was. It was a 4.28 or a 4.22. I can't remember which one it was, but it was one of those. I also had a 35.5 inch vertical."
The bruising runner still only holds scholarship offers from Michigan State and Colorado, but a number of other programs have ratcheted up their interest, including the Michigan Wolverines. Gray was on hand at the annual Maize & Blue junior day a few weeks back and able to get a lot more acquainted with the coaching staff in Ann Arbor.
"Coach Jackson told us a lot about what he is looking for in a runningback and what he wants to see on film," Gray recalled. "He was basically pointing out a couple of things that Mike Hart does well. He said you've got to make the first person miss. Ball security is also a big thing with him. So is being able to protect the backfield by being able to block. He said Hart is good at all of those things and that the size of the running back or how highly recruited he is doesn't really matter. He pointed out how Hart isn't very big and how he wasn't that highly recruited when he was coming out. He said that Hart is a small guy, but he is tough. Coach Jackson doesn't care about what everybody else says, he just cares about what he sees himself. He said he went to my game when we played Ann Arbor Huron and that he liked me a lot, but he hadn't had the chance to sit down and watch my film with the other coaches. They said they were supposed to watch my film after junior day. "
Just as the Wolverines look to be moving up Gray's list, his former favorite, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, seem to be moving down.
"I'm not sure where Notre Dame is on my list right now," he said. "They have a bunch of running backs. This year they signed a bunch. Next year the starter will be a freshman or a sophomore. They seem like they use a two-runningback type offense, so it may not be that much of a problem. Right now they're probably in my top five. Based on depth chart I would have to say my top five is probably Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, and Penn State. Notre Dame would be right there with Penn State."
Gray plans to visit, and in some cases re-visit, most of those schools in the coming months. The 5-11, 210-pounder wants to gather as much information as possible so his decision making process doesn't extend too far into his senior year.
"I'm going up to Notre Dame's pro day March 2nd or March 3rd, and then I'm going to Purdue's junior day the next day," Gray said. "I'm definitely going to some spring practices. I know I'm going to Ohio State for sure and Wisconsin as well."
"I kind of want to decide on which school I'll commit to during my season," he
continued. "I want to get my recruiting out of the way after I
take my official visits so I can focus on my academics."
"There are four big things I'll be looking at; graduation rate for the school, what is the school known for academically, the depth chart, and the players they've put in the NFL."