Up Close: Charlston Gray, Part I

<I>Inside Carolina</i>'s Andy Britt has been touring the countryside to visit each UNC football commitment, authoring his unique, on-location two-part profiles all year long. Today, he reports on Ft. Worth, Texas lineman Charlston Gray.

"First come first serve" seems like an apt motto to describe how to get a recruiting jump on a football prospect from Dunbar High School in Ft. Worth, Texas. More than any other reason, that's how UNC assistant coach Hal Hunter convinced 2003 North Carolina signee Charlston Gray to choose the Tar Heels over Big Ten schools such as Iowa and Wisconsin.

Then, after a few timely visits to Chapel Hill, the 6-foot-3, 265-pound lineman prospect was hooked. Before he even returned home from a weekend trip to the UNC campus in mid-January he took along with fellow Tar Heel signee Jon Hamlett, Gray verbally committed to the Tar Heels that Sunday morning.

"When I first got to North Carolina, I got along with everybody so well," Gray said. "I just liked the atmosphere at Carolina. The area is nice there."

But again, the fact that his first official offer came from UNC was key in getting Gray to take those visits.

"Our kids are very loyal to the people that offer first," said Wildcats head coach Bob Jones, who since arriving at Dunbar six years ago, has placed 27 players in Division I-A college football programs.

"He was offered by Carolina early, and then Iowa and some other schools tried to come in on him and offer him later," Jones said. "Hal Hunter and UNC did a great job of recruiting him and were there with him the whole time."

Gray was the Wildcats starting offensive lineman for two years, while also playing defensive end and tackle. His coach believes that Gray could wind up lining up on either side of the ball for the Tar Heels. It just depends on their needs.

"He's very athletic," Jones said. "That makes him not a kid that you have to slide into one position. He doesn't have to be an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman; he could be either one, because he's so athletic.

"He could have probably started on our basketball team that went 37-1 and won the state championship. That's how athletic he is."

Gray finished his Dunbar career with 43 pancake blocks on offense and 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four sacks on defense. He made second-team 4-A all-state, while also playing basketball and running track.

Gray was named all-state honorable mention by the Associated Press and listed as one of the top 100 players in Texas by the Dallas Morning-News. Keep in mind, being named second-team in the expansive and football-crazy state of Texas is no small feat.

Now with his SAT, GPA and core course issues out of the way, Gray said he is excited now more than ever about lining up in the Tar Heel trenches.

"I finally got my academics straight, and now I'm ready to go," Gray said.

Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow…


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