You'll have to excuse Aledo (Texas)
head coach Tim Buchanan next season if his playcalling seems a bit monotonous.
in the backfield, it's hard not to insist on getting him the ball.
"It's been pretty nice to be a head coach of a kid who's going to be the No.1-ranked running back in the nation," Buchanan said after being informed that Gray checks in as the top running back in Tom Lemming's 2012 Top 100. "It makes playcalling a lot easier. 'Hand it to John.'"
Gray told MaxPreps that he's looking forward to recognition on the next level.
"It's pretty cool to be ranked [the top running back], but to me the real rankings are in college," he told MaxPreps via text. "That's when you know you're doing something."
Aledo fed Gray the ball as a junior, handing off to the 5-foot-10, 185-pound phenom 321 times for a total of 3,221 rushing yards and 61 touchdowns. That includes eight scores in Aledo's 4A-I final victory over La Marque (Texas)
, in which Gray completely outperformed fellow junior standout Tim Wright
Gray earned MaxPreps National Junior of the Year
honors for his efforts, one year after he was named the nation's best sophomore.
Heading into his senior year, Gray has the chance to challenge for career records in rushing yards and touchdowns. According to Buchanan, records are the last thing on Gray's mind.
"That's what makes him such a good football player," he said. "Records never come into his conversation. He's a team football player."
Unofficially, Gray has 6,999 career yards and 135 touchdowns, including the 15 he rushed for after bursting onto the scene as a freshman with 10.9 speed in the 100-meter dash. A healthy senior season combined with a deep playoff run could see Gray come close to the national career marks for both yardage (11,232) and touchdowns (204).
Gray is a remarkably balanced runner. He can be a downhill guy who can break a big play, but he's also patient with great vision and would thrive in a zone blocking scheme. He continues to add size, and Buchanan anticipates he'll be a 200-pound back as a senior.
His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield adds another dimension to his game, one that Aledo will turn to more frequently in 2011 as defenses key on the Bearcats' ground game.
"He's developed really good hands as a receiver," said Buchanan. "He's worked hard. He's a hard worker."
Despite the fact that Gray's father played at Texas Tech, he has narrowed his college choice down to three other schools in the Lone Star State: Texas, Texas A&M and TCU.
Buchanan believes that Gray was close to committing to the Longhorns recently, but never pulled the trigger.
"Last week, I thought Johnathan made up his mind that he was going to Texas, but who knows," he said.
Before narrowing his choices down to three, Gray also considered a handful of out of state schools, as he was courted by everyone from Oregon to Alabama. Eventually, Gray and his father decided that they wanted to stay in Texas. Gray told Buchanan that he planned to make a decision before the team's spring football game on May 2.
According to Gray, he will make his commitment on Friday, April 22. He does not plan to have any ceremony for his announcement.Check back tomorrow when we unveil the nation's top wide receiver and tight end in the class of 2012 according to Tom Lemming. The 2012 Top 100 will be released on Wednesday, April 5.
Gray in action.