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March 4, 2011

Midlands mailbag: Where's Gray going?

Is big-time back Johnathan Gray closing in on a decision?

How does Dominique Wheeler compare with other elite receivers?

Is Texas Tech behind its competition in recruiting for the 2012 class?

These questions and more are addressed by Rivals.com analyst Brian Perroni in this Midlands region recruiting mailbag.


Where will Gray go?

Where do you think Johnathan Gray, the running back from Aledo (Texas), ends up and when do you think he will commit?

- Cody

Gray is one of the top running backs in the country and can have his pick of basically any college in the country. He has exceptional vision and makes great cuts. He should shatter the all-time Texas touchdown record next season and has accounted for 109 rushing touchdowns over the last two years alone. He is simply a special talent that has led his team to two consecutive state titles.

Though Gray could choose from schools all over the country, he wants to stay relatively close to home. On Wednesday evening, he and his family sat down for a meeting to try to narrow down his choices. The result was listing Texas, Texas A&M and TCU as his top three. Though his family did not say the words "final three," it is a pretty good assumption that is the case.

All three schools have hosted Gray and he has left with positive reviews of each program. However, Texas seems to have the edge at this point. There have been rumblings that he is actually a "silent commit" to the Longhorns but that seems very farfetched. That's not how Mack Brown operates and he has taken other visits since those rumors started. They seem to at least be based in some truth, though, as Gray is very high on Texas.

I wouldn't sleep on TCU, though. With the Horned Frogs moving to a BCS conference soon, they are becoming an even more attractive destination than they have been and their recruiting will only improve from here on out. Gray probably likes the Horned Frogs more than he is putting on. I think A&M is third at the moment but the talented runner visited Aggieland last and the trip went well from all accounts. They are selling the depth chart and the commitment to the running game and that sits well with his family.

As for a timetable, he was originally planning to wait the process out and commit close to Signing Day. I think it is starting to wear on both Gray and his family, though. That is a reason why they narrowed things down this week. I think a decision before the summer is very likely.


Top 20 talent?

Many are calling Dominique Wheeler from Crockett (Texas) a slightly bigger version of DeSean Jackson. What's your scouting grade on him? Where is he in your top 20 out of Texas this year?

- Brian

That's a lofty comparison for the 6-foot-1, 176-pound Wheeler but their games are very similar. They both catch the ball in stride and both have incredible acceleration. Wheeler gets up to top speed as fast as almost any recruit out there.

Having been to Crockett a few weeks back, I can guarantee you that Wheeler is every bit of 6 feet 1 as well. He played the season at 185 pounds but has dropped about 10 of those since basketball started. His combination of size and speed makes him an incredibly intriguing prospect and a lot of big-name schools are making their way to the small town to see him.

Since he plays quarterback most of the time, it is hard to really gauge things like his route running and the consistency of his hands. However, most of the things can be taught or worked on if there are indeed problems.

As for where he would rank, he is definitely one of the top three receivers in the state. It is a deep year at the position so that is lofty praise. At the moment I would have Cayleb Jones and Thomas Johnson ahead of Wheeler but that would be it. Wheeler is a Top 10 or 15 talent overall right now, in my opinion.


Playing catchup

Should we be concerned that Texas Tech only has two commitments while Texas and Texas A&M are both in double digits already?

- David

The Longhorns and the Aggies are both off to fast starts but that has been the case for both programs in almost every recruiting class over the past five seasons. Tech did not have any commitments at this same exact point a year ago and it ended up with perhaps its best class ever in the end.

The Red Raiders have two very good commits in Derek David and Christian Okafor. They look to be in good shape with offensive tackle Kyle Fuller, a prospect who I like a whole lot, wide receiver Deante' Gray and athlete Jalen Overstreet. They also made a very strong impression on Oklahoma State linebacker commit Dalton Santos at their last junior day.

With early recruiting being the norm in the state of Texas, if Tech does not receive a couple more commits by the end of April it might be time to worry. For now, I wouldn't think it's all that concerning. Oklahoma always recruits well and only sits at three commits right now. I think Texas and A&M have just been a lot more aggressive than the rest of the schools early on.


Ross as a running back

How do you see Oklahoma commit Alex Ross comparing to the other top running backs in the region?

- Brent

I was at Ross' coming out party when his Jenks (Okla.) team ran all over Moore (Okla.) Southmoore on a Thursday night this season. He was the most impressive player on the field by far. I still like him listed as an athlete on his profile, though, as I think he can play a number of positions.

Ross also plays defensive end for the Trojans and looks like he could play linebacker or possibly even Royback for the Sooners. As a running back, he has very good speed but he has not been playing the position nearly as long as some guys like Gray, Trey Williams or Jonathan Williams.

I want to watch a little more of him as a senior and see how he has matured as a back. Does he have the natural instinct to see the hole and hit it as soon as it opens? How are his hands out of the backfield?

I love his athleticism and that's the reason he was included in the Rivals250 to Watch list but, as a running back, I don't think he's quite on the level as the other three guys I mentioned just yet.



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