When it comes to the popularity of family members, Johnathan Gray undoubtedly trumps that of his father James Gray.
But that’s not to say the elder, and still nimble, Gray didn’t make a name for himself when he was his son’s age.
He finished his career at Texas Tech with 4,066 rushing yards, which was then a school record and is still good enough for No. 2 behind Byron Hanspard.
James, who hopes his son will eclipse that number at Texas, gave his thoughts on a few topics as Johnathan begins his career as a Longhorn.
William Wilkerson: What did you tell Johnathan before he began practice on Monday?
James Gray: “I just told him to just be patient. I told him to enjoy it and not try to become a senior in one day. It’s going to be a long, long process for him. If he can just be patient and take all of this in, he will be OK.”
WW: How is he getting along with his teammates and getting acclimated to the playbook?
JG: “He said he was having a great time. Football is his sanctuary so as long as he is on that field he is great. He is enjoying everybody, coaches and teammates. He said that Malcolm (Brown), Joe (Bergeron) and Jeremy (Hills) are really helping him out.”
WW: How is that relationship between all of those running backs?
JG: “I really expect Malcolm, Joe and especially Jeremy, with him being a senior, to show some leadership and help Johnathan along. It’s going to be a long, grinding season and they really need to help each other out and make it easier on each other.”
WW: Johnathan set a state record in career carries with 1,218. Do you see that being an issue at all long term?
JG: “I don’t think so. Now he has some help. He’s got a ton of help. He doesn’t have to worry about carrying the ball 20 times a game, especially his first year. …The thing with Johnathan is he realizes it’s a team sport and any help he can get is great for him. It doesn’t matter as long as they win the game. Hell he could carry it five times as long as they win.”
WW: Is there an aspect to his game that people are going to be surprised to see?
JG: “Well hopefully they will never realize how good he can catch the ball. As a running back, you can carry the ball so much but you don’t realize how good his hands are. I really love it when he gets out in the open field on a swing pass or a flare route. I think that will be the biggest surprise right there.”