The Texas Longhorns believe freshman tailback and former Aledo High School standout Johnathan Gray is prepared to assume a larger role within the offense.
Running backs coach Major Applewhite said Gray's workload should continue to increase on Saturday at Oklahoma State, when Texas opens Big 12 play.
Gray has tallied 21 carries for 89 yards (4.2 average) through his first three games. Sophomores Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown are tied for the team lead with 37 carries each.
Gray has seen his touches increase with each game, albeit at a slow pace. He rushed five times against Wyoming, seven times against New Mexico and nine times against Mississippi.
"I think it's a developmental process, and I think he's there," Applewhite said. "When I watched him against Wyoming, just like anybody else, whether it's a tackle, guard or quarterback, he was just a little bit tentative in that first game."
But with each week, Gray has continued to improve and impress his new coaches at Texas. In three games, he's shown flashes of what made him a consensus All-American at Aledo.
"I saw him lower his shoulder against New Mexico and run the ball with a little bit of power off left tackle," Applewhite said. "Then I see him get in there against a faster, stronger Ole Miss team and now he's hitting the holes, coming out of tackles with foot quickness and a speed burst. It's all about familiarity and getting comfortable. I think he is really coming along. I'm excited about his development over the last month."
But has Gray expressed concern about a lack of touches?
"If he's [upset], he's hiding it," Applewhite said. "He has such a great attitude."
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram