As predicted on LonghornDigest.com shortly after discovering Duane Akina's departure Sunday night, Jerry Gray is headed to Austin as Akina's replacement.
A former Longhorn standout, Gray is a 23-year NFL veteran as a player and coach, and will take the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach job. Gray played in the league for nine years before serving 14 seasons as an assistant coach, including five years as a defensive coordinator. Gray comes to the Longhorns from the Seattle Seahawks, where he coached former Texas standout Earl Thomas as the team's defensive backs coach. He was Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator from 2001-2005.
"This is truly an exciting opportunity for me and my family," Gray said. "Not very many guys get the chance to come back and coach where they played and to do that at a place that is as special as Texas. It's just an unbelievable opportunity. I've enjoyed getting to know Coach Brown, and I've been so proud watching everything they've been accomplishing since he took over, and to have a chance to be a part of that is a dream come true."
Gray becomes the third coach on Mack Brown's staff with Longhorn playing experience, including co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and defensive ends coach Oscar Giles.
"We're excited to bring back one of our own in Jerry Gray," Brown said. "He is a member of the Texas High School Hall of Fame, the Longhorn Hall of Honor and is one of the great defensive backs and players to come out of The University of Texas and this state. He went on to be a Pro Bowl player for many years in the NFL and then to becoming one of the league's best defensive coaches.
Gray was a four-year letterman in Austin from 1981-1984 and was one of only seven Longhorns to earn two-time consensus All-America honors, making the team in 1983 and 1984. He was a unanimous selection as a senior, one of only 20 Longhorns to accomplish the feat, and was two-time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1996, Gray is also a member of the Texas All-Time team and All-Decade Team for the 1980s.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back on campus and working with the guys," Gray said. "I enjoy the teaching part of the game and am excited to be able to pass down to the young guys everything I've learned being in the NFL for a long time as a player and coach. The things I like to focus on are technique and helping them better understand the game. Effort and the mental part of the game is the difference in the great players in the NFL, and I think I can help them see that. If they understand what to do and why they're doing it, they'll develop as a player and play faster for our defense. When you're dealing with young people, it's important to understand that they all learn differently. I've always prided myself in being a players' coach and working with each individual. I need to be smart about how I coach each of these young guys and prepare them to be the best player they can be."
Gray finished his career second on the all-time list in interceptions with 16, and now resides in third, just one interception behind Noble Doss and Nathan Vasher.
The signing of the Lubbock, Texas native means that Texas has just one assistant coaching job open: the offensive line coach. Of Texas's nine assistant coaches who served in 2010, just three — Applewhite, Giles and tight ends coach Bruce Chambers — remain.