Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Gray Lining | by Pat

One of the few postives to take away from the Michigan game weekend/debacle was the verbal commitment of South Carolina cornerback Gary Gray. The highly-regarded prep player was at one time committed to his home state Gamecocks but opened his recruitment back up in the summer in order to take another look at Notre Dame. He liked what he saw while on his visit to Notre Dame and pulled the trigger to become ND's 9th player of the 2007 class.

"[Gray] kind of said that he had decided a couple weeks ago, and this trip was mainly to confirm it," [Gray's coach Duane] Wages said. "He wanted to go and experience the game day atmosphere...that solidified his decision."
Now, that might sound a little incongruous, considering ND was on the receiving end of a 26-point drubbing, but that didn't deter Gray.
“Gameday, there’s nothing like it Saturday, a gameday at Notre Dame,” Gray said Monday. “They had me doing push-ups when they scored the first time.”

Then when Michigan torched the Irish secondary on several passing touchdowns...some fans said, “See why we need you?”

As a recruit, Gray certainly has received quite a bit of attention from college coaches and recruiting services alike. In addition to offers from over 30 programs including Texas, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Tennessee, Gray is ranked the #6 CB in the nation according to Scout, #3 by Rivals, and #2 for ESPN's Scouts, Inc. Further more, he's ranked the 62nd-best player overall in the nation by Scout, 29th by Rivals, and #14 overall by Scouts, Inc. Not too shabby.

Another welcome trait is that Gray, like Darrin Walls and Raeshon McNeil before him, has been a cornerback in high school and won't be a convert from another position like many recent Irish corners. Obviously that's not a guarantee that he will be a successful cornerback, but it does mean that the transition from high school to college won't be as extreme as it was for some of the current Irish players who were switching to a new position.

Gray will also be an early admit, and will join Jimmy Clausen in South Bend in January for the spring 2007 semester. He will also get the benefit of an additional semester of collegiate weight training (a good thing for the 5'11" 170 pound Gray) as well as the chance to participate in spring practice and crack the secondary depth chart.

Cornerback has long been a weak link in the Irish recruiting machine, with the best corner in recent memory being a converted soccer player. But in the last two years, ND has received commitments from three cornerbacks ranked in the consenus Top 10 in the nation. Finally, there appears to be depth and talent at a position long viewed as ND's achilles heel. Again, not too shabby.