Texas Longhorns: Garrett Gray

Incoming impact countdown: Nos. 9-13

February, 19, 2014
Now that they’ve signed their letters of intent, Texas’ incoming recruits can officially toss their stars in the trash. They don’t matter now.

While such ratings and rankings are helpful throughout the recruiting process, they mean nothing once a kid sets foot on campus and joins the program.

[+] EnlargeJohn Bonney
Steve Dipaola/NikeWith question marks already at safety for Texas, John Bonney has a chance to earn early playing time.
Gold stars won’t decide who gets to play as a freshman. Preparation, fit, need, raw talent, confidence, some good fortune -- a whole lot of real stuff matters now. Which members of Texas’ 2014 class have a chance to help out the Longhorns from day one?

This week we’re breaking down the Texas signees by their ability to make an early impact during their time on the 40 Acres, counting down from No. 23 to No. 1. If you missed it, here were the first two portions of the list.

13. WR Garrett Gray
Marble Falls | 6-foot-4, 210 pounds

2013: 78 receptions, 1,267 receiving yards, 17 receiving TDs, 197 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs, 1 kick return TD

Gray flew under the radar during his recruitment before running a 4.4 at UT camp and committing soon after getting offered. What’s underappreciated about him, it seems, is his freaky athleticism. Like Dorian Leonard, he brings a basketball background to the game and is a major leaper who exploded in Todd Dodge’s offense.

Like all the other receiver signees in this class, Gray is facing an uphill climb if he wants to play as a true freshman. He might be the sleeper find of this class, whether he plays early or not, and could have enough raw tools to impress receivers coach Les Koenning.

12. LB Cameron Hampton
Dallas Carter | 6-0, 200

2013: 93 tackles, 15 sacks

Hampton might be more of a developmental prospect compared to his peers in this group, but the dude can hit and plays with intensity. He’s quick enough that it’s not hard to envision Hampton emerging as a playmaker on special teams coverage and carving out a role there as a freshman.

Stacked might not be the right word, but Texas has a lot of linebackers returning this season. All of them, actually, pending any offseason departures. Dalton Santos and Steve Edmond are the incumbent starters at inside linebacker, but Hampton can push them and make them better.

11. LB Andrew Beck
Tampa (Fla.) Plant | 6-3, 230

2013: 110 tackles, 7 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble

Beck wanted to be a Longhorn no matter what, even after Manny Diaz and Greg Robinson both left, and stuck with his plans to enroll early throughout the turmoil. He was serious about getting to Austin and getting to work. What can he do in Year 1?

As is the case with Hampton, Beck is looking at a bit of a logjam when it comes to playing time this fall. But he’s an athletic prospect who will put on good weight, can play any linebacker position -- and maybe even some tight end -- and proved at Texas camp he can develop into a playmaker in the years to come.

10. S John Bonney
Houston Lamar | 6-1, 180

2013: 36 tackles, 8 passes defended

Bonney could move up this list quickly when he joins the program for several reasons. Texas has some real question marks at safety going into 2014, and new DB coaches mean a clean slate and a chance for the two best players to play.

Bonney is a sharp, polished product who brings leadership and ball skills. He can help this secondary. Texas has a few promising defenders -- Leroy Scott and Adrian Colbert, for starters -- who could rise this offseason and relegate Bonney to the sidelines this fall, but Bonney was one of the best safeties any Big 12 school signed and shouldn’t get overlooked.

9. TE Blake Whiteley
Arizona Western C.C. | 6-5, 245

2013: 8 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Nobody is a lock to play right away, but Whiteley might be the closest. The early enrollee and junior college transfer joins a tight end group that needs bodies (and pass-catchers), and he’ll get to play for the coach (Bruce Chambers) that recruited him. So he’s in good shape from the get-go, as long as he can get the playbook down.

What does he bring as a tight end? Whiteley had a reputation for his receiving skills during his high school days in Canada, and his blocking was still a work in progress at the juco level. He’d be a good fit to split out in the slot and make plays over the middle if he adjusts well.

Texas coaches back on the road recruiting 

January, 16, 2014
The dead period is over and it’s time to hit the road. Charlie Strong has his new coaching staff in place and is ready to get back to work on closing out Texas’ recruiting class.

The Longhorns currently have 21 committed prospects, though several are looking to take official visits elsewhere this month. There are big-time recruits still available. And don’t forget the new names who are sure to pop up on Texas’ radar in the next few weeks.

Here’s a rundown of where things stand and what names you should know entering the end of the dead period.

Solid commitments

Loss halts Texas' recruiting momentum 

November, 17, 2013
Everything was set up so perfectly for the Longhorns prior to kickoff on Saturday afternoon.

They came in riding a six-game winning streak with a chance to make it seven against a marquee opponent in Oklahoma State, who was in search of its sixth straight victory.

The sidelines were littered with some of the top recruits in the country, including the nation’s top player in running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and ESPN 300 cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen). The latter two were on official visits.

The sky was even painted a picturesque blend of blue, pink, orange and yellow.

But then kickoff came and with it went much of the momentum, both on the field and in recruiting, that Texas had built up over the last two months.

Oklahoma State manhandled the Longhorns. The final score was 38-13 but it could have been a lot worse. A mass exodus of a tired fan base began late in the third quarter.

It was the exact opposite of the environment Texas was hoping to create for the recruits in attendance. They witnessed Oklahoma State bask in glory from their seats directly behind the Cowboys’ bench.

Many of those were 2014 commits, as 12 of Texas' 24-member class were expected to be in Austin.

In addition to 2015 commit Jalen Campbell (Corpus Christi, Texas/Flour Bluff), the Longhorns were also expected to host several top junior prospects. They included athlete Louis Brown (Burton, Texas/Burton), running back Lanard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), cornerback Holton Hill (Houston/Lamar), quarterback J.W. Ketchum (Missouri City, Texas/Thurgood Marshall), cornerback Keivon Ramsey (Converse, Texas/Judson), wide receiver Kemah Siverand (Houston/Cypress Ridge), linebacker Cameron Townsend (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point) and defensive back Jordan Tolbert (Missouri City, Texas/Ridge Point).

Texas also hosted its lone 2016 commit, receiver Reggie Hemphill, along with several 2016 teammates from Manvel, Texas, in safety Deontay Anderson, who has a Texas offer, linebacker Jordan Carmouche, and athlete D’Eriq King. Fort Worth (Texas) Southwest 2016 quarterback Devin Williams was also slated to be in attendance.

For as ugly as the loss was, and for as many questions as it has already brought about concerning the future of Texas coach Mack Brown, this defeat doesn’t seem like it will have that much of an affect on those already verbally pledged to Texas.

They’ve endured quite a bit already but have long maintained their desire to help turn this program around. Take this tweet from Cuney for example: “There they go on my Coach Brown! Get off his back man. He not the 1 playing. He can only do so much!”

OU-Texas: 2014 recruiting tale of the tape 

October, 10, 2013
When the Red River Rivalry is played, records are thrown out the window. When the game’s over, some love looking into the future to play “what if” with the next batch of talented college players.

While both teams have some room to land uncommitted recruits, both are pretty happy with where they are currently. Texas has 24 commits, and Oklahoma has 14, and when comparing ESPN 300 athletes, Texas only has a 7-5 lead.

Which team has the Red River Rivalry recruiting edge this year? Here’s a breakdown of eight positions and which team holds the edge for now.


Perhaps the most competitive comparison between the schools is at quarterback. ESPN 300s Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) are the nation’s No. 4 and No. 5 dual-threat quarterbacks. Hansen is the Sooners’ top-ranked commit and has proven himself a first-class leader of the class. Heard already has one state championship ring, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance in December before arriving at the Forty Acres.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Dallis Todd
Erik McKinney/ESPNOklahoma will get 6-foot-5 playmaker Daliis Todd in its 2014 class.
Running back

There are high expectations for both ESPN 300 Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Donald "Duke" Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower). Perine is a physical specimen with the combination of power and finesse at 6-foot and 213 pounds. Catalon, at 5-10 and 193 pounds, has the agility and overall balance to make him a potential every-down back. Texas also has three-star Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton), a player who plays with a chip on his shoulder, looking to show that he should be mentioned with the elite talent.

Advantage: Texas

Wide receiver

Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will be complaining about their receiver crop. The Longhorns have an ESPN 300 player in Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City), a rising star in Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) and a player in Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) who caught 13 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns in a game last year. Oklahoma has size and athleticism in 6-5, 210-pound ESPN 300 receiver Dallis Todd (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and a 6-7, 180-pound end zone threat in Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla/Union)

Advantage: Texas

Tight end

Oklahoma has done well with recruiting tight ends and was able to land ESPN 300 players Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Meier is the No. 5 Y-tight end in the country, while Andrews is the No. 8 H-tight end. Texas also has a good one in junior college pledge John Thomas (Bossier City, La./Trinity Valley Community College). At 6-6 and 255 pounds, Thomas can be used as both a reliable blocker and receiver.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Offensive line

It’s hard to believe that between the two schools, only three offensive linemen are committed.

Sooners commit Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) is considered one of the nation’s top centers, and guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), with his work ethic alone, will surprise a lot of people in a couple of years. Texas, like Oklahoma, has a four-star center committed in Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper). Cuney is a player who might see immediate playing time as a freshman.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive line

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Stat check: Longhorns 2014 commitments 

September, 2, 2013
Here is a look at how each one of Texas’ 2014 commitments faired this week:

Derick Roberson
Max Olson/ESPNDefensive end Derick Roberson helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.
• ESPN 300 defensive end Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Brennan), the No. 8 DE in the country, helped Brennan shut out San Antonio Holmes 52-0 on Friday.

• ESPN 300 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) caught three passes for 62 yards and a 44-yard touchdown in a 48-0 win over Dickinson.

• ESPN 300 quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) completed 12 of 18 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions and rushed 18 times for 103 yards in a 38-28 loss to Cedar Hill (Texas).

• ESPN 300 cornerback Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) helped the Purple Knights defense hold Amite to six points in a 35-6 victory on Saturday.

• ESPN 300 outside linebacker Otaro Alaka and Houston/Cypress Falls lost to Conroe (Texas) Oak Ridge, 37-16.

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Welcome to The Heard, HornsNation’s weekly in-depth look inside the never-ending world of Longhorns recruiting with news, notes and interesting tidbits on the latest happenings around the program. We’ll release this every Friday.

Talk about it in our forum and, if there’s a recruit out there you’d like to hear more from, let us know.

In this week’s edition of The Heard:

  • Texas Stampede visitors list
  • Vahe ready for another visit

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Summer Recruit Wrap: Texas 

July, 23, 2013

Here is a look at five things we’ve learned about Longhorns recruiting this summer.

1. Suddes making big impact

Patrick Suddes, Texas’ Director of Player Personnel, could go down as one of coach Mack Brown’s best hires in his time at UT. All Suddes has done since coming on board in March is help make smart, innovative decisions that have helped the Longhorns appeal to recruits despite not winning like they’re used to on the field.

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Texas commit Gray glad to be discovered 

July, 11, 2013
MARBLE FALLS, Texas -- One of the smartest things Todd Dodge ever did in his first year at Marble Falls High School was attend a basketball game.

Not long after the famed former Southlake Carroll and North Texas head coach was hired on in January 2012, he was in the gym watching some Mustang hoops. That's when Dodge spotted the 6-foot-4 kid playing in the post.

In this town of less than 7,000 people, Dodge wasn't exactly expecting such a serendipitous discovery of talent. But he liked what he saw, and he moved quickly.

[+] EnlargeGarrett Gray
Max Olson/ESPNThree-star receiver Garrett Gray impressed the Texas coaches at the Longhorns' summer camp.
Dodge called up the boy's parents to arrange a meeting. Being the former college head coach that he is, Dodge knew making an in-home visit would seal the deal.

He had no idea why Garrett Gray didn't play football in 2011. Didn't matter. He needed him on his team.

But he kept his pitch simple: Come out to practice. See if you like it. Just give it a shot.

"I told him, 'Listen, I don't care why you didn't play as a sophomore. All I'm saying is come next Monday, when we start offseason back up. I'm inviting you to be there,' " Dodge said.

Today, Gray is the prolific wide receiver who committed to Texas in June over offers from a dozen other programs. Back then, he was a high school basketball player, one growing tired of his favorite game yet hoping it would be his ticket to college.

And you can imagine his surprise to learn the man who'd just been quarterbacks coach at the University of Pittsburgh had come to his small Hill Country town to win big again at the high school level.

"I had no clue," Gray said. "I didn't think he'd ever come here, to be honest."

It's safe to the recruitment of Gray was easier than any Dodge dealt with in his four years coaching UNT. He immediately and excitedly said yes, and he showed up on Monday. And then he did something special.

The coaching staff was doing testing on the field that day. Pro agility tests, vertical jumps, all the standard stuff. So Gray got in line and ran his 40-yard dash.

"I'm out here and I've got the watch," Dodge said. "He runs a 40 and I get 4.46. I said, 'I missed it. Give him a 4.54.' I said there's no way, I must've missed it. So he got back in line.

"A few minutes later, he runs again. Boom. 4.47. I'm like, 'Jiminy Christmas ...' "

Why in the world was this kid not playing football? It's a question Dodge and his baffled assistants must have arrived at last spring. Gray simply says he wasn't interested. He played football in middle school. He played as a freshman. He went with basketball and track for sophomore year.

Gray had been playing AAU and traveling basketball since he was in third grade. The early looks from Texas A&M, Rice and Tulsa were encouraging, but Gray was already starting to feel burnt out by the sport before Dodge ever set foot in his living room.

"You know, basketball was my first love," Gray said. "It wasn't in the cards, I guess. Coach Dodge came one night and talked to me and changed my mind. It's been football ever since."

And ever since the 2012 season opener, when he earned a start and caught three touchdowns in the first half, Gray knew he'd made the right decision.

He'd go on to have much bigger games than that. On the night Marble Falls quarterback Mike Richardson earned national attention by throwing for a record-setting 724 yards and seven touchdowns, Gray caught 13 passes for 293 yards and five scores.

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Four Downs: Texas collecting receivers 

June, 18, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week, I look at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Few O-linemen in 2014 class

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AUSTIN, Texas -- What Texas’ three-day camp, which began on Thursday, lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality.

There were far fewer big-time names over the course of the 72 hours than the Longhorns had in Austin for their minicamps on June 2 and June 9, but the results were equally as pleasing for coach Mack Brown and his staff.

Texas picked up four commitments in three days, including two on Saturday, to boost the number of pledges it has for 2014 to 19, which is four more than it had in the entire 2013 class.

Here’s a look at those prospects and other storylines that transpired from the camp.

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Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) had always felt like his home for college resided some 45 miles west at TCU. He was such a believer that he committed to the Horned Frogs on Aug. 13, shortly after he attended a TCU camp and was offered.

But things changed. Other schools, particularly Texas, started chasing Porter harder than before and now he’s headed south to become a Longhorn.

Porter told HornsNation that he’s given his verbal pledge to Texas. This comes just six days since he was offered at Texas’ June 9 camp and five days since he decided to decommit from TCU.

Emanuel Porter
Max Olson/ESPNWide receiver Emanuel Porter became the fifth receiver to commit to Texas in the 2014 class.
"I really just feel comfortable with the program and the coaches that they have," said Porter, who came to Austin with his mother on Friday. "They know how to push you and make you better not only on the field but off the field, too. The vibe when you get when you are with them is a good feeling."

The former basketball player-turned football standout must have had a big change of heart over the past few days to lead him to this decision. He told HornsNation on Monday, just after he’d decommitted from TCU, that the Horned Frogs were still No. 1.

But that was then, and he’s a Texas commitment now. He couldn't be happier.

"I mean I just have been thinking and to be at a program like this just means a lot," Porter said. "I talked it over with my family and just wanted to do what I wanted to do. It's my decision. I feel like it is a good fit for me."

Porter is the second wide receiver to commit to Texas in three days. The Longhorns got a surprise commitment from Longview (Texas) wide receiver Dorian Leonard on Thursday when he called Texas’ coaching staff to become the 16th member of the class.

With Porter and Leonard on board, the Longhorns now have commitments from five receivers in 2014.

Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper) and Roderick Bernard (Houston/Sharpstown) have been with the class for months (Joe was the class’ first pledge), while Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) committed on Monday, one day after he was offered at Texas’ June 9 camp.

"I don't know any of them right now," Porter said. "But I'll get to know them."

Texas is surely done with receivers for 2014, right? Not so fast. The Longhorns would actually like to take six in this class and could wrap that up soon with a commitment from Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/ Texas City), who was supposed to be in town Friday along with his brother D'Onta Foreman.

But that domino has yet to fall. Two gigantic ones have in the past two days and that has to give Texas plenty to smile about. The height that they’ve accumulated out wide is one notable feature of this group. Porter is 6-foot-3 and 189 pounds, then you've got Gray (6-4 205), Leonard (6-4, 200), and Joe (6-3, 196). Bernard is 5-10, 175 and Foreman, should he commit to Texas, is 5-11, 175.

Texas’ recruiting momentum following its Sunday minicamp continued with another new commitment on Monday night.

Marble Falls (Texas) wide receiver Garrett Gray gave the Longhorns his verbal pledge one day after landing an offer at the camp. He becomes the 15th member of Texas’ No. 3 ranked 2014 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound receiver wowed Texas coaches from the very beginning of the day when he busted off a time of 4.4 seconds in his 40-yard dash. Gray went home with his offer, thought things over and was ready to pull the trigger late Monday.

Garrett Gray
Max Olson/ESPNNew Texas commit Garrett Gray, who is 6-foot-4, insists he'll play receiver in college, unless he gains too much weight.
“I’m amazing, man. I’m excited about it,” Gray said. “I was always real high on them. They made me feel like family, and they’re going to win. They offered me because they want to go three- and four-wide with their offense, and I went home and thought about it and reached my decision.”

Gray chose Texas over offers from Oklahoma State, UCLA, Cal and nearly a dozen other schools. He joins Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper) and Roderick Bernard (Houston/Sharpstown) as the third receiver in Texas’ class.

Though he visited Texas for a spring practice in March, Gray admitted there hadn’t been much contact between him and UT this spring. Once the Longhorns became interested in recent weeks, things moved quickly.

“It’s where I want to be,” Gray said. “I grew up around here and I love where I’m at. I want to be part of that program. They’re going to turn the corner, and I want to be part of that.”

As a junior, Gray caught 80 passes for 1,205 yards and 20 touchdowns for Marble Falls. Going with a UT program located 50 miles southeast from home made too much sense to Gray after he picked up the offer.

But going into the weekend, he sure wasn’t expecting to be a future Longhorn a few days later. It took a while for the offer to truly set in Sunday night, but after that Gray was ready. He’s proud of what he proved at the camp, especially with his 40-yard dash time.

That speed could make Gray an asset in a variety of roles for the Longhorns. Though he’s likely best suited to play outside receiver, he knows his quickness can make for lots of mismatches when a linebacker has to cover him.

“They told me my role depends on how I grow. If I put on 10 or 15 more pounds they’ll put me out wide, but I can play inside," Gray said. "Wherever they can find a mismatch, really. If I get to 240 or 260, they’ll put me at tight end and I can go against linebackers. That’s not Major Applewhite’s plan, but I can be a matchup problem out there.”

That’s not in Gray’s plans, either. He’s not expecting to bulk up and move inside.

“I’m a wideout,” he said. “I’ve proved my speed. Major Applewhite tells people you’ve got to see it to believe it.”

Lessons Learned: Texas' June 9 camp 

June, 10, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Here are five things we're thinking following Texas' second and final minicamp of the summer:

1. A flurry of moves

In case your head is still spinning from all that went down on Sunday afternoon, a recap: Texas landed 2015 commitments from Lufkin (Texas) athlete Keke Coutee, Center (Texas) safety Johnny Shaw and Buda (Texas) Hays tackle Connor Lanfear.

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Texas summer camp: Commits and offers

June, 9, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas -- A look at the recruits who committed to Texas today:
A look at the recruits who were offered by Texas today:
  • Class of 2014 defensive back Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie)
  • Class of 2014 receiver Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln)
  • Class of 2014 receiver Garrett Gray (Marble Fallas, Texas/Marble Falls)
  • Class of 2015 cornerback Kris Boyd (Gilmer, Texas/Gilmer)
  • Class of 2015 quarterback Chason Virgil (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite)
  • Class of 2015 running back Jay Bradford (Splendora, Texas/Splendora)
  • Class of 2015 quarterback Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville, Texas/Stephenville)
  • Class of 2015 offensive lineman Trevor Elbert (Rockwall, Texas/Heath)

Rising WR Gray takes in UT practice 

March, 1, 2013
Texas’ spring practice on Friday featured multiple highlights, and 2014 wide receiver Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) was one of the athletes on hand as a witness.

In fact, Gray described the practice in two words: “Very impressive.”

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Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.