I thought about it for awhile, and went over several backs who fit Gray's stature. Then I tried to figure out which of those backs fit Gray's style of play as well. If I had to compare him to any back nationally it would be either Mike Hart or Ray Rice. Now before you get too excited I'm not saying that Jonas Gray is the next Mike Hart or Ray Rice. That's quite a bit to put on any high school running back, but his style of play absolutely reminds me of those two current college running backs.
Power is the name of the game with Jonas Gray. The Country Day star is built very solid with a thick lower body. Gray is a tough running back who never shies away from contact. The Detroit native is a straight line runner with good footwork.
At times he will run a bit high, but for the most part, Gray runs with very good pad level. One thing that stuck out to me right away was the fact he never stops his feet from moving. This young man runs with good leg drive and has the ability to drive through defenders.
It won't be often that Gray will be brought down by a single defender. He shows a good knack at lowering his shoulder in traffic but needs to be more consistent at staying low and driving at the goal line.
I have seen in various articles that Gray is listed with 4.4 speed. While I don't see that kind of top end speed, I do think Gray plays with good speed. If he gets the corner or finds a seam he has enough speed to take it to the house. It often takes him a bit to really kick it into high gear but once he gets rolling he is hard to stop.
The four-start Scout.com prospect appears to have good vision and doesn't get caught in traffic. He will see a crease and explode through it. He's not a cut-back runner but has the vision to find holes all over the line.
One of my favorite attributes of Jonas is his patience. Often times high school running backs just go 100 miles per hour. If the play calls for him to get downhill fast he will, but on the toss and stretch play Gray shows great patience. In this regard Gray reminds me a bit of Terrell Davis. He will string it out, let the blocking develop, see the whole and explode through it. Gray also does a nice job on the perimeter of setting up his downfield blocks.
Gray also shows the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield with his hands. I do not like body catchers, especially out of the backfield. This should not be a problem with Gray, and he has even shown the ability to catch the ball downfield.
I mentioned earlier that Gray does have good footwork. He isn't, however, a real shifty back. That is just not his game. Gray is also not a real smooth guy but again that is okay. I also noticed that Gray runs a bit flat footed and doesn't get much leg lift. These are more observations rather than critiques.
The Detroit Country day high school star also has a tendency to always tuck the ball in his right arm. He even does this when the run play is to the left. This will have to be corrected. At times Gray will also let the ball get away from his body which I'm sure will be one of the first things that will be worked out when he gets to South Bend. Gray also needs to be more efficient with his technique in the backfield.
I wouldn't consider Gray to be a home-run hitter at running back, but that is fine with me. Gray is, however, the type of back who can carry the ball 20-25 times, get 25-30 touches, and get stronger as the game drives on.
With his stature and thick lower body Gray has the size and game to wear down a defense. He's the type of running back who you watch on film and he doesn't' blow you away. But he keeps grinding, driving, moving the chains and you look at the stat line at the end of the gain and you see a 25 carry and 100+ yard game. This is a good pickup for the Irish and adds to what is growing to be a very good Fighting Irish backfield.
In the Film Room: Jonas Gray
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