Texas Longhorns freshman tailback Johnathan Gray was named to the College Football Performance Awards 2012 National Freshman of the Year watch list on Wednesday.
Gray is second on the Longhorns in rushing with 316 yards on 63 carries in seven games. The former Aledo High School star is also second among Big 12 freshman in rushing yards. He scored his first career touchdown in Saturday's 56-50 win over Baylor. Gray has three catches for 17 yards.
Gray said this season has taught him to be patient.
"I knew it was going to be a learning curve," Gray said. "It's not going to be like high school, where you can score every single time. I have to get better and better each day."
Gray is one of 28 players on the watch list, which includes 10 running backs and four representatives from the Big 12.
Running backs have won the award twice in the last three years. South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore won in 2010 and Oregon's LaMichael James took home the award in 2009. This year's winner will be announced at the end of the season.
After coming up a yard short of his first touchdown two weeks prior against West Virginia, Gray found the end zone from 25 yards out in the second quarter against the Bears. Gray's teammates greeted him with some good-natured ribbing once he returned to the sidelines after the score.
"They loved it," running backs coach Major Applewhite said. "They were all teasing Johnathan. They were like, 'You better have gotten this because if you got dragged down at the three or four yard line, Joe [Bergeron] was going to score.' "
Gray has rushed for at least 50 yards in four of his last five games. He had a season-high 87 rushing yards against West Virginia on Oct. 6.
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram