The gridiron version of Aledo (Texas) senior Johnathan Gray is well known to high school football fans. Record-setting running back, move-the-chains machine, touchdown maker, and now, 2011-12 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year.
Lesser known to fans is Gray’s 95 grade average as a senior, his 40-minute round trip day after day to visit a schoolmate he barely knew during her stay in a cancer ward. In other words, the consummate package of student-athlete.
“I’m so honored. This is truly a blessing,” the 5-foot-10, 202-pound University of Texas-bound senior said Tuesday after winning the Gatorade award. “It’s humbling to have people speak highly of my character. I work hard in the classroom and I help folks off the field because that’s what I was taught. That’s who I am. I’m so excited to be recognized as a player and a person.”
Gray learned he’d won after an early morning practice Tuesday. The surprise news arrived via a phone call to the Aledo fieldhouse from former NFL MVP and current New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who played high school ball at Waco’s University High.
“I’m so glad he was the one who told me,” said Gray, 18, whose father, James, earned second team collegiate All-American honors in 1989 and remains No. 2 on Texas Tech’s list of career rushing leaders. “He’s another Texas guy, and I was lucky enough to meet him once when I was a sophomore. It was pretty exciting to hear his voice on the phone and hear him saying what he was saying.”
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