Recent commit Johnathan Gray should bring help to Longhorns’ rushing attack

Alex Endress

The Longhorns just inked a great 2011 recruiting class in February, but their most vital commitment of the year might be that of junior Johnathan Gray, a five-star running back in the 2012 class from
Aledo High School.

Gray is coming off his most productive season yet, rushing for 3,223 yards and 59 touchdowns, breaking the previous record of 57 set in 1953 by Ken Hall of Sugar Land High School. He also averaged 9.2 yards a carry last fall. Gray is quite a workhorse for the Aledo Bearcats, according to Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan.

“The kid just works so hard,” Buchanan said. “The thing about John is that he has fun every day, not just in games but in practices. He’s a huge leader for this football team.”

Gray was the integral ingredient for the Bearcats’ back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010. In the 2010 championship games, he scored eight touchdowns on the ground, accounting for all but one of the nine scores that day. He also scampered for 325 yards.

“He doesn’t crumble under pressure,” Buchanan said. “The bigger the game, the better he plays.”

The 5’11”, 190 lb. back is one of the fastest high school running backs in the state, recording a 4.40 40-yard dash, according to His talents even earned him an active role on the varsity squad as a freshman, during which he gained 969 yards and 15 touchdowns.

His speed could prove to be a killer combination with the bruising, 6’0”, 215 lb. Malcolm Brown, a 2011 five-star signee. The duo would ideally produce somewhat of a “thunder-and-lightning” tandem when Gray arrives on campus, similar to the LenDale White and Reggie Bush combo for Southern California in 2005.

“He’ll have to adjust his style a little bit,” Buchanan said. “In high school, he has a chance to score a touchdown on every play, but that won’t be the case in college. He’s going from one of the fastest guys on the football field to just one of the fast guys.”

The Bearcats are glad they get to keep him for the 2011 season. They hope his legs can tote them to one more championship before he bolts off to college.

“It would have been hard without him,” Buchanan said. “He [basically] was our offense during his sophomore year. We were a lot more balanced this year, though.”

After rushing for a low of 1,806 yards in 2010, ranking No. 66 in the country, the Longhorns could use some help.

“He’s the total package,” Buchanan said, “He has great speed, size and as good of vision as anyone I’ve ever coached. He’ll fit well, especially with Bryan Harsin’s offense.”