Jonathan Gray is the Future for the Texas Longhorns

When you have one of the top five recruits in the nation on your roster it would seem that featuring him would be a smart idea, right?

After beating the Texas Tech Red Raiders it is clear what the Texas Longhorns and head coach Mack Brown needs to do in order to make the most out of the rest of the 2012 season:

Feature freshman running back Jonathan Gray in the offense.

Back in April 2011 Major Applewhite, a former Texas Longhorn quarterback and current co-offensive coordinator for the ‘Horns, succeeded in singing the top high school running back in the nation and one of the best overall players in Jonathan Gray.

When it comes to ranking high school player nationwide the end results have to be taken with a grain of salt. Like in college football, the competitive level varies greatly not only from state to state, but often times from county to county. What’s to say that a running back from New Hampshire couldn’t do just as well in Texas as Gray did?

Scouts and analysts will argue to the end of days about how that can be done, but for some guys it is much easier to just look at the statistics they produced over the span of their career. In the case of Jonathan Gray from Aledo, Texas, the stats don’t lie.

As a freshman he averaged 6.9 yards a carry. That number rose to 7.5 as a sophomore, 9.2 as a junior, and an incredible 11.2 as a senior. In case that isn’t enough to prove how good he is he scored 189 touchdowns over the course of his high school career.

With a talent like this on the roster one would think that he would be a major part of the offense from day one. That was not the case here though. Instead the Longhorns have gone most of the season with sophomore Joe Bergeron leading the way at running back with Gray and another sophomore, Malcolm Brown, getting carries (till he was injured).

During the early weeks of the season while the rushing duties were being spread around so much the offense appeared to be scrambling for some stability. Sophomore quarterback David Ash has not been able to provide it with up and down play week to week.

However, over the last two games there has been a stabilizing force—Jonathan Gray. Two weeks ago against Kansas in a game where Ash struggled mightily it was some solid running by Gray that kept the Longhorns in the game (18 carries for 111 yards.

Against Texas Tech the Red Raiders tried to account for Gray, but in the process gave Ash enough room to do some damage (11-19, 264 yards, 3 TDs). Gray had his second consecutive 100+ yard day with 106 on 20 carries.

Gray could still develop into an elite talent in college football, but for now he is good enough to make teams game-plan for him, which will in turn take pressure off the quarterback (whoever it is).

For now a lot of the attention will go to David Ash since his play clearly improved in the Texas Tech game in comparison to last week. While it is important for the quarterback to be playing at a high level, as the season goes on it will become more and more clear that Gray is the catalyst for the Longhorns offense.

As long as they keep giving it to him the future for the Longhorns and Mack Brown should get a lot brighter.
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