Now fully and completely healthy roughly 20 months removed from an Achilles injury, Texas Longhorns running back Johnathan Gray is ready to take on a feature role in the Horns offense for the first time.
At the start of summer school and conditioning work leading up to fall camp, Gray stopped by the Longhorn Network studios to discuss his mindset, the new Texas offense, and his role within it.
"Right now, my mindset is being more of a vocal leader for the team, and not just for myself or my running back room, but for everybody in the locker room," he said. "Right now, that's a big key for me and that's what me and the coaches talked about earlier this week and that's what I'm prepared to take on. Hopefully I can get my teammates on my back and on board and get this thing rolling."
A hard worker in the weight room and on the practice field throughout his career, Gray has always led by example, but now he's stepping into a bigger role after the departures of leaders like running back Malcolm Brown, wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, linebacker Jordan Hicks, and cornerback Quandre Diggs.
Since that's such a natural transition for Gray, the main storyline offensively other than the quarterback competition is the new offense installed during the spring. Gray clearly benefited from the increased usage of the quarterback run game in finding more seams in practice and said that the new attack is also helping his teammates.
"We're still kinda going through things, but it's a spread offense now," said the former five-star prospect. "We were an I-formation team, but now we've moved back to the spread, so it's going great right now. Guys are running it and enjoying it. I think it gets more of the athletes in space and makes them have more one-on-ones to win their battles. For me, I love the offense, I've been involved in both, love both, so the sky's the limit for what we can do with the guys we have on this team and what the offense is about."
In fact, Gray believes that he has some significant upside left, too, just like the 2015 Texas football team. However, after dealing with some adversity during his career, he understands that he has to continue to push himself to reach his goals, even though he's never exactly lacked for work ethic.
"Always critical of myself and always think that I can do better on each and every thing that I do on the field or off the field, so it's just getting better, being more in the weight room, being more in the film room, and getting myself prepared to take on a role."
Just how good can Gray be when he's fully healthy and receiving opportunities? Check out the final part of the segment, as Longhorn Network host Lowell Galindo runs through Gray's best plays in burnt orange, including a bonus look at his willingness to get physical.