While opinions seem to vary on Gray's historical value — some coaches feel he's the state's best running back in years, while others think last year's top back Malcolm Brown was better — nobody doubts Gray's value as the state's top back in the Class of 2012. A season ago, Gray rushed for 3,223 yards and 59 touchdowns. In fact, over the past two years, he's rushed for more than 6,000 yards and 109 scores. That's big-time production from a big-time back who boasts uncommon acceleration and speed, along with a frame that can hold 205 pounds at the next level. Gray is a slasher who runs through contact, and he's had some durability problems because of it. But he should be able to split carries with Brown in college, keeping his touches down and his health and explosiveness up.
There's a ton to like about Williams, who rushed for 2,290 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. He's shifty and, like Gray, has elite acceleration and speed. Williams is also a deceptively tough runner. But there are questions about whether Williams, as a smaller back, can duplicate his inside production at the next level. Unlike Gray, Williams doesn't have the frame to get much bigger than 180-190 pounds, meaning he might not be able to take as much of a pounding. But Williams is a high-level back, and has lightning quick feet and great vision. Those tools help to make him one of the state's top running backs, and a player who has rushed for more than 4,200 yards and 38 touchdowns over his past two seasons.
Not only Will Allen boast one of the state's nicest stadiums when the Eagles kick off the 2011 stadium, but that stadium will also hold one of the state's top backs. Williams may have the best combination of size and speed in the state, a frame that can hold 220 pounds and natural track speed that has been clocked as fast as 10.6 seconds. If all the senior backs went straight into the NFL Draft, Williams might be the first back taken. He rushed for more than 1,800 yards in 10 games last year, with 18 touchdowns, and could be a monster in Missouri's one-cut zone-blocking schemes with his vision and cut-back ability.
Watch out for …
Timothy Wright. The La Marque back was overshadowed in the state title game because Gray scored a state-record eight touchdowns for the other side. But Wright looked to be a big-time player as well and he'll have a shot to prove it on a longer-term basis this season. Also keep an eye on Brenham running back Troy Green, a powerful runner who could be a much-needed power back for Texas A&M. He could also transition over to linebacker and make an impact there.