Gray Learning the Bulldog Way

Junior college transfer Donald Gray was a household name among the Mississippi State fan base before he enrolled for spring coursework. Gray signed with the Bulldogs out of White Station High in Memphis as a member of the 2013 signing class. After an All-American campaign in 2014, Gray signed again with the Bulldogs and was able to enroll in January.

With the departure of talented senior Jameon Lewis as well as the position change of sophomore Jamoral Graham, the door towards serious playing time stands wide open for Gray. Now the final practices of his first spring in Starkville are set to take place this week. SEC Saturdays have always been a dream for Gray, but for now he is focused on being part of the Bulldog culture and finding his niche.

A superstar at every level, Gray is learning about what it means to work towards a completely new level of excellence.

"We have a competition to see who can have the fewest drops," Gray said. "We see who has the fewest "MA"s (missed assignments) and we get graded on our percentage. If someone has an "F", he team looks at that person and tries to lift them up instead of down. We all make mistakes, but we're all there to pick each other up at the end of the day."

Mississippi State fans have penciled Gray in as the punt and kick return on their personal depth charts, but the Co-Lin standout is prepared to work at any position to help the Bulldogs win games.

"I will play gunner or anything they need me to play to help," Gray explained. "I will play missile, block the punt or punt it. I will do anything to help us get that ultimate goal.

"I am comfortable at (returns). I am just trying to get situated. I am still trying to learn the techniques. It's just more technical up here. You just have to be perfect. If they ask me and my number is called, I am going to go out there and do my job and do whatever I have to do."

In addition to sharpening the saw in the return game, Gray has found the demands of his position to be even greater than he anticipated.

"Everything has to be perfect," Gray said of learning to run college level routes. "The DBs on this level are unbelievably fast. They are all quick If you are one step short, then they are on it. Your depth matters.

"If you have to run a stop route, then you have to come to a complete stop. If you drift, then the DB is right on you. Everything has to be perfect and you have to get every single step down."

While the increased level of detail has forced Gray to elevate his play, the personable slot receiver is happy with his spring progress.

"I am not happy, but I know I am progressing," Gray explained. "I am not where I want to be, but my goal is to be the best. I want to play at the highest level. I don't want people to see me on the field and say 'Oh, he's the new guy'. I want people to see me and want to know who I am. I want to blend in with his offense and take my game to the next level."

Gray had the chance to review his play to date on film. Often his own harshest critic, Gray has found some things he can improve upon and some things he is pleased with.

"I have had a lot of missed assignments in the first scrimmage," Gray said. "It's not that bad, but it's not where I want to be as a newcomer. If you get a chance to play with the "1"s, then that is a privilege. You want to do everything perfect.

"I have watched a lot of film and I have asked a lot of questions. Everyday in the film room, we are finding new ways to critique ourselves. We all want to get better."

Gray has high expectations for himself. He has turned to a couple of older Bulldog players who have served as mentors for Gray in the few months he has been on the Mississippi State campus.

"I talk to Will Redmond a lot," Gray said. "With us being from the same city, knowing where we come from and having the same goals, we get along well. He's been a big part of things for me here.

"All of the receivers have helped me a lot. I look to Fred Brown a lot. Fred Ross is my big brother up here. I look to them and Joe Morrow for tips and really anything that can help me a better a player and put me in a position to help my team."


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