On Sunday, Michigan added a commitment from three-star Rochester (MI) Adams defensive back Vincent Gray, a one-time Mizzou pledge who looked like he was headed to West Virginia before the home-state Wolverines came calling.
Gray's recruitment took off in December, when he added his Michigan offer and picked up interest from some big-time programs:
Gray seemed set to sign with West Virginia during the Early Signing Period, but that quickly changed when Michigan offered a scholarship just days before. Now he is waiting into January, where an official visit with the Wolverines is likely. He has stayed quiet on other plans, but word is other programs like Penn State, Stanford, and more have inquired.
He committed on that official visit, right around when offers from Oregon and UCLA came in. Gray is the 20th commit in the 2018 class and the fifth defensive back, joining a very lanky group of Myles Sims, Gemon and German Green, and Sammy Faustin.
Note: added state rankings. I probably should've done this a long time ago and the elimination of Scout added some room. It's listed after positional rank. Also added Rivals rating (FAQ here).
3*, 5.7, #56 CB,
3*, 76, #82 CB,
3*, 86, #68 CB,
#19 MI, #695 Ovr
3*, #60 CB,
#17 MI, #686 Ovr
Rivals is most bullish on Gray, giving him their highest three-star rating and placing him 17 position ranking spots away from four-star status. On the other end, ESPN presumably fired off a rating when they added his profile yesterday; raise your hand if you think Michigan just offered the 25th-best prospect in the state.
Gray certainly fits the mold of a Don Brown defensive back. He's listed at 6'2", 179-180 pounds at ESPN and 247; Rivals has a probably outdated figure of 6'1", 165. Like everyone else, Gray will get thrown into the pile of defensive back and the coaches will figure out where he best fits between cornerback and safety/nickel; my guess is he'll be the latter.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and the rest.]
While it took a while for Gray's recruitment to take off, he's been on the radar since at least his junior year, when he appeared at some camps. He had some of the best testing numbers at Penn State's 2016 elite camp, per 247's Sean Fitz:
Vincent Gray - CB - Rochester (Mich.) Adams (2018)
Another long corner (6-0, 163) who was at the top of the charts across the board among 2018 defensive backs.
That was with the likes of 2018 OSU signee Marcus Hooker (Malik's little brother) in attendance, so Gray had some stiff competition.
Gray caught the attention of Irish247's Tom Loy at last April's Opening Cleveland regional:
The Rochester (Mich.) Adams three-star cornerback was a pleasant surprise on the day. Gray isn’t some midwest recruit without any offers. Iowa State, Cincinnati, Purdue, Syracuse and others have offered. However, he’s still missing that marquee, top-tier offer. Physically, I like where Gray is at. He’s a legit 6-2, 180 pounds. He’s put together well. He showed good coverage skills and an ability to get up in the air and high point the football. He’s someone to keep an eye on moving forward.
Rochester (Mich.) Adams' Vincent Gray is a long, smooth kid who had a good day.
His play earned him some bigger offers; Kentucky, Mizzou, Boston College, and Virgnia came forward during or shortly after camp season, and Gray committed to Mizzou in July. That gave their Rivals site a chance to evaluate Gray's junior film:
Gray is a long, lanky corner with good ball skills. Has excellent height and arm length and uses both well, as he is physical with opposing receivers. Should only get more so as he fills out his frame. Has good speed, but not a burner. Has very good feet and hips and accelerates well.
My biggest concern with him is his change of direction. He has to do a better job getting out of his backpedal. Is a sound tackler downfield, but doesn't step up and make plays around the line of scrimmage.
His ability to play the ball in the air is exceptional. Has very good hands and instincts, should come up with his share of interceptions.
It'll be interesting to see what Michigan decides to do with him. He could be a Jeremy Clark-like corner who uses his size to make up for average speed/agility, or the coaches could decide his ball skills and downfield tackling play better at safety.
Trieu caught up with Gray's coach to get his assessment following his commitment:
“He’s been great,” Rochester Adams head coach Tony Patritto said. “He’s been on varsity since his sophomore year and has obviously been a good representation of our program and our whole team. We like to play fast on defense and he is an integral key to that, because we can put him on any team’s best wide receiver and felt good about playing him man to man the whole game. He was very selfless. He played offense this year and became a real good dual threat. We did not throw the ball a ton, but as a blocker, he was really, really good, and that selfless nature really stood out for me as a coach.”
He's a good candidate to make an early impact on special teams while he's working his way towards the two-deep in the secondary.
Gray eventually wound up with a pretty solid offer sheet that includes Oregon, UCLA, Army, Boston College, Cal, Central Michigan, Duke, Iowa State, Kentucky, Mizzou, Purdue, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia, Washington State, Western Michigan, and West Virginia, among others.
Rochester Adams has not been a major talent producer in the state. Adams in the second three-star prospect from Adams in the Rivals database, joining Michigan State tight end Matt Sokol. A couple others have signed with Central Michigan. Former walk-on receiver Joe Reynolds, one half of JDK and Rey, is the only other Wolverine in the Bentley database listed as hailing from Adams.
MaxPreps lists Gray with 19 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, and a fumble recovery in eight games as a junior, as well as 16 receptions for 184 yards as a receiver. No senior stats were readily available.
FAKE 40 TIME
Gray has SPARQ-verified combine numbers: 4.76 40 (zero FAKEs), 4.26 shuttle, 33.4-inch vertical, 38.5-foot powerball throw. Those numbers indicate he's probably better suited to safety than corner unless he plays faster than he tests.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Gray will be in a pile of young, talented defensive backs taken one class after the coaches added five freshmen to the secondary. As one of the more raw prospects, not to mention one facing a significant jump in competition, he's likely to redshirt unless he's a standout on special teams. Before seeing the field, he'll have to determine if he's a corner or a safety/nickel; the quicker path to playing time is at the latter.
I like Gray's senior tape. Taken in conjunction with his late offers, he looks like a player who's got a good chance of exceeding his middling recruiting hype.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now at 20 commits in a class that should add a handful more prospects. Gray's recruitment should close out any need for another member of the secondary. The coaches will focus on a select group of top targets that includes OTs Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jarrett Patterson, WRs JaMarr Chase and Chris Olave, and DTs Michael Thompson and Rick Sandidge.
Here's the class as it currently stands: