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March 15, 2011

The first five-stars: Johnathan Gray

MORE 2012 Rivals250 to Watch list

They are the best of the best. The players that are wanted by every program and destined to make a big impact at the college level and beyond.

Rivals.com has identified the first five-star prospects for the 2012 class and is unveiling them this week. Twelve prospects have been awarded five-stars but are not ranked at this time and we will profile three each day. The first player to receive the five-star spotlight is Aledo (Texas) High running back Johnathan Gray.

Five stars: Johnathan Gray
Gray is only 11 touchdowns shy of the Texas all-time career record.
Johnathan Gray, RB, Aledo (Texas)

Attributes: 5-11, 190, 4.4

Top schools: Offers from numerous schools all over the country but lists a top three of TCU, Texas and Texas A&M

Scouting report: Gray's vision is as good as almost any other running back to come out in recent years. He sees lanes develop and hits the hole very quickly. He follows his blocks incredibly well and runs north and south without dancing too much. He is an every-down back who is capable of carrying the ball 30 times a game if needed. He also has surprisingly good hands out of the backfield. He is tough to tackle in the open field and can turn what seem like short runs or catches into home-run plays.

Analyst's take: "Gray is one of the best backs to come out of the state of Texas in recent memory and that is a huge compliment. He has a great combination of size, speed and agility that make him tough to bring down. He is simply a winner on the field as well, leading Aledo to two consecutive state titles and a 31-1 record over that stretch. He is almost always in tune with his offensive line but he can also make things happen on his own if need be. When there were concerns about his health in the state playoffs this year, he rebounded with a 325-yard, eight-touchdown performance against La Marque in the championship game. He seems to thrive on the biggest of stages." - Brian Perroni, Rivals.com

Why he's a five-star: "Gray is one of the most productive backs in high school football history. When I saw him as a sophomore in the second round of the playoffs he started off slow but kept hammering away, eventually wearing down the Stephenville defense. That's when I knew he had what it takes to become an every-down difference maker at the next level." - Barry Every, Rivals.com

His coach says: "He's a great football player and an even better kid. It didn't take up long to figure out he was pretty special. He played two games on the JV as a freshman before we moved him to varsity. He's the type of kid that just gets better and better every year. He's a very coachable young man and a hard-working young man, both on and off the field." - Tim Buchanan, Aledo head coach

Odds and ends: Gray has been talked about ever since rushing for close to 1,000 yards as a true freshman, a rarity in the state of Texas. As a junior, he rushed for 59 touchdowns, breaking the single-season state record of 57 that had stood for 57 years. He is now only 11 touchdowns shy of the all-time career record in the state and should easily surpass the mark early in his senior season. Though he sits out a lot of the second halves of games, he has shown amazing durability, averaging over 22 carries per game the past two seasons. Though his father James was a standout running back for Texas Tech, the younger Gray seems to want to blaze his own path.

NFL player comparison: Tony Dorsett, Dallas Cowboys

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