Despite surfacing on the radar of colleges after a freshman season that saw him run for nearly 1,000 yards, Aledo running back Johnathan Gray's recruitment has not featured the usual ups and downs of most five-star prospects.
Credit that to his father, James Gray, the former Texas Tech standout running back, who has kept all public comments, well, pretty mundane. Vanilla. However you want to say it.
Here's what is known.
Last October, the family named Johnathan's top five of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and TCU and in March narrowed the list to Texas, Texas A&M, and TCU. Late in March, Gray made it public in a rare interview that he was planning to announce his decision on April 22nd, his 18th birthday. Beyond that, it's simply been rumors from unsubstantiated sources and the parsing of visits.
All of that is ready to come to an end. On Thursday afternoon, Gray will phone college coaches to let them know of his decision and unless news leaks out of his choice during the afternoon and evening hours -- which seems relatively unlikely given the handling of the rest of his recruitment -- in the minutes after midnight, the early minutes of his birthday, Gray will make his decision public.
Friday morning just after 9 am CST in a press conference at Aledo, Gray will answer questions from the media, a relatively rare availability for a prospect whose father has made public the majority of his comments, especially after visits to schools.
In the spring, Gray made several visits to Austin, including coming down for the first Junior Day early -- a right reserved for top prospects and those ready to make a commitment upon receiving an offer -- and took in a basketball game with several Texas coaches amid some rumors that he was a silent commit to the Longhorns. Gray also attended a practice to view the new offense under Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite and attended the spring game as well, despite his father saying that the family had no plans to do so until several days before the event.
Gray made multiple trips to TCU during the spring, perhaps in part due to the proximity of the campus to Aledo, roughly a 20-minute drive and also spent some time in College Station.
With Gray having declined to name a leader or a favorite throughout his recruitment, any discussion of Texas leading for Gray basically has little support in public comments from the family, but the fact remains that rumors have had Gray as a Longhorn lean for some time, dating back at least to the fall, rumors that survived the commitment of Malcolm Brown to Texas and the changes on the coaching staff.
For those who have followed his recruitment closely, then, Gray committing anywhere than Texas would be a major upset. TCU has risen in national prominence in recent years, experiencing a great deal of success as a program, but has not matched the on-field success with success recruiting against Texas. There's a first time for everything, of course, but Gray committing to TCU would mark a major reversal of the recruiting narrative as it pertains to the two schools going head-to-head. A monumental reversal, even.
Conventional wisdom has had Texas A&M trailing in a distant third throughout the process and the commitment of Spring Dekaney's Trey Williams, a running back generally considered as not far behind Gray in overall talent level, probably doesn't help the Aggie cause. It seemed unlikely that Williams and Gray would ever end up in Austin together, so perhaps it's equally as unlikely that the two end up in College Station together.
In the end, the best guess here is that five-star stud Johnathan Gray solidifies the future of the Longhorn running game and makes Texas head coach Mack Brown an extremely happy man Thursday afternoon and Texas fans equally as happy hours later.
Exciting day, no?