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Gray area: Tech All-American expects emotional day with son on other side

Johnathan Gray offers UT hope more than 20 years after his father starred for Tech

Posted: October 31, 2012 - 9:20pm  |  Updated: November 1, 2012 - 12:12am
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James Gray has known for a while this day was coming.

His son, Johnathan, one of the nation’s top football recruits last fall, would pull on a Texas uniform and go play for the Longhorns against Texas Tech, the school for which James starred in the 1980s.

When that day comes, what’s a father to wear?

“I’m 150 percent Red Raider,” James Gray said Wednesday, three days before the Tech-Texas game at Jones AT&T Stadium. “Now, I may have a little pin on that says Longhorns. Trust me, you won’t be able to see it. I’ll have on my Red Raider gear.

“That’s the agreement. This is the one time on game day I actually get a chance to wear Texas Tech.”

That shouldn’t be interpreted as James Gray loving his son any less. During Johnathan’s recruitment, his father told him to pick the place he liked the best and thought he’d fit in. James and his wife, Tonya, would back their son completely, following wherever he went.

“We wouldn’t miss a game,” James Gray said. “This is the ride of a lifetime to follow your son around, watch him progress into manhood and get a chance to go off to college and play the game he loves.”

UT coaches added another angle this week: Johnathan Gray, a 5-foot-11, 207-pound freshman, was promoted to No. 1 running back, just in time for the Tech-Texas game.

“Man, I tell you, that’s just one more thing to make me nervous,” James Gray said. “It’s almost like a setup, you know? As if I didn’t have enough to concern myself with.”

Malcolm Brown, the Longhorns’ top returning rusher from 2011, has been slowed for a month by an ankle injury. Gray posted his first career 100-yard game — 111 yards — last week at Kansas.

Time to see what the heralded freshman can do.

“It’s great,” he said. “My team is counting on me. I’m ready to execute, be what they want me to be, come through.”

Given the younger Gray’s record-setting career at Aledo High School, his becoming a focal point was bound to happen, and more likely sooner than later. Gray set a national schoolboy record with 205 career touchdowns, ranks second all-time in 100-yard games (51) and single-season touchdowns (70) and finished third in career rushing yards (10,908).

He was 10 times the recruit his father was. But James Gray set a high standard for his son to match in college.

Gray, a second-team All-America running back in 1989, still holds the Tech record for career rushing touchdowns with 52 and is second in career rushing with 4,066 yards. On Gray’s last night in scarlet and black, he ran for 280 yards against Steve Spurrier’s Duke Blue Devils in the All American Bowl, and for years that was the NCAA record for rushing yards in a bowl game.

Johnathan Gray is just getting started.

Sophomore Joe Bergeron is the Longhorns’ leading rusher 450 yards and 15 touchdowns on 99 carries. Gray is close behind with 81 carries for 427 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s kind of ironic,” James Gray said, “but the great thing about it is, just like his freshman year in high school, he seems to get better and better as the games are going on. I guess that’s a good sign. I didn’t expect for him to be playing this much this soon as a freshman in college.”

Going into the season, Gray figured to be part of a three-pronged rushing attack with Brown and Bergeron. Brown’s injury opened the door to more playing time for someone.

“That kind of sped the process up,” James Gray said. “The great thing about it is he was prepared, and the coaches had him prepared. That really says a lot for what they’re doing.”

Longhorns coach Mack Brown said Gray’s maturity stands out. That, and he’s showing all-around skills.

“He’s very mature, very tough,” Brown said. “He’s got good ball security. He can catch. He’s learning his pass protections better. That allows him to play even more.”

James Gray said he stays in touch with several of his former Texas Tech teammates, among them center Len Wright, fullback Clifton Winston, guard Mike McBride and linebacker Joe McBride.

“They kind of give me a hard time about how I let a Red Raider become a Longhorn,” Gray said, “but they’re kind of like me. They’re excited for him.”

 

To comment on this story:

don.williams@lubbockonline.com
• 766-8734

george.watson@lubbockonline.com
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College football

Who: Texas Tech vs. Texas

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Jones AT&T Stadium

Records: Texas 6-2, 3-2 in the Big 12 Conference; Tech 6-2, 3-2.

Rankings (BCS/AP/coaches): Texas 23/RV/22; Tech 18/20/20.

Last game: Texas 21, Kansas 17; Kansas State 55, Tech 24

Last meeting: Texas 52, Tech 20 last year in Austin.

TV: ABC (channel 28; Suddenlink Cable channel 8)

Line: Tech by 7

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Nice write-up on the Gray area

Johnathan appears to be a fine young man who obviously has some exceptional parents. I wish him the very best in his career at UT, except on the days he plays TTU. Hopefully, then he is just average.

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Nice Article

This is hilarious of James Gray to come out and say that he is still going to wear his Tech gear to the game. Only wearing a UT pin. James Gray you were an awesome running back at Tech and I wish your son the best.

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James good friend, Joe McBride

Joe. Is doing a masterful job coaching The Coppell High school football team wih a study defense, a run game that sets up the pass, and sound special teams. And this after having to suspend 5 or so starters at the beginning of the season due to violations. He is my candidate of coach o the year in 5A.

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James Was, Obviously, An Excellent Running Back....

but for my money, the best I ever saw was Bam Morris.

If Spike had a 3rd and 8, you knew what was coming. Nope, not a pass. It was the sweep with Bam. He could run over you and run around you.

Of course, Bam couldn't handle his personal life, and that's a shame. A few of you will remember that Bam beat out Jerome Bettis at Pittsburgh before Bam lost control. Jerome got the job back and ended up with 10,000 yards.

Oops. Wake up. Beat Texas.

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James Gray is a class act. He

James Gray is a class act. He is an amazing person on and off the field. That has to be a struggle for him coming back to Texas tech with his son on the other side of the field he is rooting for. I wished jonathon would have picked tech but he didn't and I wish him the best....just not this Saturday.

Beat the he'll out of Texas!!

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Loved James Gray

I remember watching him play. I never could figure out how he could be running one way and looking the other. He had hips that were double jointed or something. Hard to explain, but the Tech fans that can remember know what I am talking about.

I remember going to the All American Bowl in Birmingham, Al. He cliniced Duke on how to run the football that night. On one of his long TD runs he ran through the endzone and turned and sat down in a chair that was at the back of the endzone waiting for his teamates to arrive to celebrate. Was a classic moment for me!

Would like to see a follow up on what he thinks about the new Jone's since he played at Tech. He would have to be very impressed I would think!

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James Gray

What a [filtered word]. "Thanks alot dad..."

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James Gray

What a [filtered word]. "Thanks alot dad..."

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James Gray was great...what happened

I remember Gray playing for us, he was awesome, I agree with Facts, I think Bam was better, but he was a disaster in he personal life. Gray was great too. I was young then and don't remember what happended to him as far as his pro career. Anybody know? I can't remember him making the pros, I thought he would have been a very capable pro. I wish we had his son, my daughter is a Horns fan too, so I can sympathize with James. I don't know what I did wrong, I feel like a failure, but I still love her, just like I'm sure James loves his son as much as he probably hates having to root for a Longhorn. Go Tech beat Texas and shut down that running game!

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There's a word for this

It's called "traitor." Go Tech, I hope we hold him to 8 yards rushing. Did daddy gray ever think that maybe tech could use a quality running back? Yeah, he's wearing his scarlet and black tomorrow so we don't lynch him and run him out of town. I remember sitting on the sidelines watching James run for us and his work ethic really made me proud to be a red raider and I had all the respect in the world for him...sadly, now I don't. Sorry. Both of my two sons wouldn't be caught dead in burnt orange and the thought of going to another school besides tech turns their stomachs, just sayin. It's not like I brain wash them either, they came to it on their own. It's called having pride in your school. I guess if you have it and show it, your kids pick up on it and want to be a part of it. Did James? I have trouble believing he did, how about you?

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