Gray May Create Tebow-Like Situation
has yet to play in a college football game, but he’s already stimulating
imaginations. The 18-year-old quarterback from
Indianapolis finished spring practice last weekend with his teammates
and he sent observers home raving about his potential.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Gray is a fluid,
skilled athlete. He moves gracefully on the field, even when coming out
of the huddle. He showed a smooth throwing motion in Saturday’s annual
spring game, completing eight of 10 passes including two touchdown
passes. One was a beautiful spiral that went 59 yards to
wide receiver Brodrick Smith for a touchdown.
Although the spring game rules didn’t allow
quarterbacks to be tackled, Gray comes advertised as a runner, too.
Mike Sherels, who played linebacker for the Gophers a couple years
back, has seen Gray impressively break tackles. In high school Gray ran
for 302 yards in five games during his senior year when he missed some games
because of injury.
The Gophers have one of the Big Ten
Conference’s best returning quarterbacks in junior Adam Weber who
has set various school records. Yet Gophers coach Tim Brewster
plans to use Gray, his freshman, in each game, giving him a certain
number of plays.
Three years ago at the University of
Florida, the Gators had an outstanding senior quarterback named Chris
Leak and a new recruit on campus, Tim Tebow. Recognizing the
skills of both, the Gators got both players on the field during the fall
of 2006 and went on to win the national championship.
“I see a lot of similarities,” Sherels
said. “…They had Chris Leak, and Tim Tebow was the young upstart, future
phenom. Obviously, we saw glimpses of what he (Tebow) was to become, the player
that he is today. Chris Leak was, at that point, a three year
starter. Much like Adam Weber he was very comfortable with the offense,
a future pro draft pick. They (the Gators) found a really good balance as far
keeping Tim Tebow’s plate small and having him (take) 10, 12, 15 snaps a
game. Just having him be really good at all of those plays. Chris Leak-Adam Weber is that every down guy and the leader of the team.”
It requires a large imagination to see
Gray duplicating what Tebow, who will be a senior at Florida this fall,
has already accomplished. The Gators' quarterback has won the Heisman
Trophy and played on two national championship teams.
Yet it’s tempting to liken Gray’s
potential with well-known names. Minnesota's quarterback looks like a
better passer than Ohio State’s 6-foot-6 Terrelle Pryor, the No.
1 high school recruit in the nation a year ago. Brewster has likened
Gray to another tall quarterback, 6-foot-5 Vince Young who led
Texas to the 2005 national title.
And then long ago Sandy Stephens, a
powerful 6-foot, 215-pound quarterback who could run better than he passed,
helped the Gophers to the 1960 national championship. Stephens may have
been the most physically gifted quarterback the Gophers ever had. Even
though Gray has yet to play a game, and will face failure and success as
a young quarterback, go ahead and imagine that one day he will be a
candidate for the school’s most talented guy ever to play that