NSD Scouting Report: Johnathan Gray

One-by-one, we'll take a look at every member of the Texas recruiting class.

We have such a tendency to look at the measurables for a football player when trying to project them to the next level. And let's be clear: Johnathan Gray's measureables don't equate out to a five-star talent. He's 5-11 195, and probably only has the frame to add another 10 or so pounds while keeping his athleticism. So he doesn't have great size. And Gray ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at The Opening, the same place Daje Johnson reeled off a 4.34 40. So it's not like he's a speed demon, either.

But with Gray, to focus on his measureables is to miss the big picture. He has the frame to be a nice-sized running back, and he runs with power that contradicts his size. And he has the speed to take any handoff directly to the house. But he's truly elite in terms of burst, acceleration, quickness of feet, vision and balance.

The first two were actually recorded in his numbers at The Opening. Typically, a player with great quickness should have a shuttle time four tenths of a second faster than their 40-yard dash. So if you're a defensive end who runs 4.7 seconds, a great shuttle time would be 4.3 seconds. Gray was actually five tenths of a second faster, running a jet-quick 4.03-second time that demonstrates his quickness and ability to change directions.

When that is paired with his "feel" traits as a running back (balance, vision, etc.), Gray becomes special. He rarely takes huge shots because he's so good at twisting and contorting his body away from contact. And because of that same skill, he's always falling forward.

He's more of a one-cut-and-go guy than somebody who's going to stand around and juke for an advantage, and he's able to cut at awfully acute angles. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and was actually Connor Brewer's favorite target at The Opening.

The one real knock on Gray is his durability. He's had multiple shoulder injuries, and had some knee stuff flare up. But at the same time, it's worth noting that 1) he played through those injuries and 2) those are the kinds of injuries that develop because of occasional overuse. Gray won't be used as often at the next level: indeed, part of the reason he picked Texas was because the Longhorns already had workhorse back Malcolm Brown in the fold.

Gray is a five-star back, and I think the best back in the country, because he can do so many things well, even if his size and speed aren't off the charts. But here's the thing: that almost makes him more impressive to me. Take away a speed back's speed, and what does he have? Gray was limited late in the season and at Under Armour with knee swelling and fluid issues, and was obviously not at full speed. But he was still remarkably effective because he could do everything else.

Gray is an immediate impact guy for Texas, and should be a part of the rotation from the second he hits campus, likely stepping right into the "Fozzy" role as a change of pace back and Wildcat quarterback.

Horns Digest Top Stories