Things didn't go as planned at first.
Kolby Gray rolled his ankle during the preseason, and head coach David Raffield decided to start his backup against No. 4 Westfield. Gray was disappointed, not wanting to start this campaign the way his previous two went. On the bench.
It ended up being an unforgettable night.
Trailing 19-7 at the half, Gray's number was called, and the 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback came off the bench to throw for 427 yards and two touchdowns in just two quarters, and Cypress Falls rallied for a 47-45 victory. Gray also added a rushing touchdown.
"He was everything that we thought he was going to be in the second half of that football game," Raffield said. "We were hoping to get that kind of performance by midseason. It took him until week six or seven to have any kind of varsity playing experience behind him. He fought threw a couple ankle injuries. He's just a winner."
"That's where it all started," Gray said.
Gray was talking about the recruiting interest. A relative unknown in the class of 2009 heading into the season, Gray quickly burst on the scene. Coaches from Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Florida and LSU have been by the school. Texas has called. Notre Dame is one of the many programs sending letters.
"I think he's on everybody's top-10 list," Raffield said.
Gray set the school record for passing yards in a game that night. He later broke his own record later in the season, throwing for over 480 yards on another Friday. Gray threw for 222 yards and three touchdown in the 49-37 ESPN victory over five-star running back Sam McGuffie and his Cy-Fair team.
"One he has tremendous natural instincts," Raffield said. "He just ends up making plays on the field because he is so creative. Two, he has phenomenal accuracy. I think that is evident with his 32 touchdowns to just five interceptions. Three he has great mobility."
Gray threw for over 3,300 yards, and reported a 4.58 40-yard dash.
"He can dominate the game with his legs as well as his arm," Raffield said. "His arm is great. Incredible strength. He throws a real catchable ball."
Soon, Gray will likely catch his first scholarship offer.
Playing behind Welch, Gray always knew he had what it took to be a Division-I quarterback. It didn't take him long to prove it when he got his chance. As the season went on, his confidence kept growing.
"I kind of had a little confidence before the season, but it was kind of building as the season progressed," Gray said. Cypress Falls finished 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs this season. "I was seeing the field real well. We were making plays. I knew I was going to be a D-1 prospect. People may of doubted me, but I knew in my heart I was. But as the season progressed, I started putting up numbers."
"We knew he was a big-time player, a potential D-1 player, because of his performance on the practice squad and during a bit of mop-up time," Raffield explained.
Gray said he really began to notice the attention from college recruiters following the win over Cy-Fair on national television. Notre Dame really upped the letters after Raffield left messages with assistant coaches Mike Haywood and Rob Ianello, two guys he's gotten to know during the recruiting process over the years.
"Obviously the great players that have came from there with Brady Quinn and all that, but I'm still getting to learn them," Gray said.
"Distance isn't a problem for me," he later added. "It's just what the quarterback's role is there, and how I'm going to fit in. I've always liked Notre Dame, and I have no problem with it. Notre Dame is a great school."
At this point, Gray hasn't been on any unofficial visits, and is completely wide open as far as favorites go. He may attend the U.S. Army National Combine, and normally hits camps and other combines with a "spur of the moment" decision.
"I just kind of want to go with the flow and see what happens and see who is interested," Gray said. He has a 5.8 GPA on a 6.0 scale. "I have in the back of my mind what kind of school I want to fit into, what school I could fit into, and not necessarily for the name of the school. When schools start offering, I can go from there."