March 15, 2006

Gray sets announcement date

Columbia (S.C.) Richland Northeast cornerback Gary Gray, a strong candidate to debut with a five-star ranking on Rivals.com early this summer, is about to make some lucky team very happy.

"I've decided I'm going to make my decision next Thursday (March 23)," the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Gray said. "I have it narrowed down to Notre Dame, USC, Florida State, Florida, Tennessee and NC State. I don't have any idea who I'm going to pick yet, but I'm just ready to get this decision behind me, so I went ahead and set a date to announce it.

Gray, who racked up 60 tackles, 14 pass break-ups, and four interceptions as a junior, almost has his announcement plans finalized.

"It's going to be at a hotel in Columbia, either the Marriott or the Holiday Inn," he said. "I'm going to have a press conference that night at about 6:30 is what it's looking like right now. I'm just going to have a little speech prepared, and then I'll put on the hat of the team I decide to pick. I'm so up in the air right now that I might not even make my final pick until I get up to the podium. I've been going back and forth on a lot of teams."

Gray took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame recently, and the Fighting Irish made a big impression on him.

"Notre Dame's facilities are unbelievable," he said. "They have a new $33 million dollar football facility that's very impressive. They also have a 120-yard indoor practice facility and a 26,000 square foot weight room. Their player meeting rooms are really nice. I really liked pretty much everything about Notre Dame."

Gray recently picked up offers from Florida State and Florida, two teams he grew up following closely.

"Florida State was a big offer for me because I've been watching them since I was a little kid. It goes all the back to the days of Warrick Dunn and Charlie Ward. Plus Deion Sanders played there, and he's one of the best cornerbacks of all time. Florida is a team I watched a lot back when coach (Steve) Spurrier was there. Coach (Urban) Meyer is there now, and I like his style of football."

Gray, who projects to graduate from high school in December, also likes what Tennessee and NC State have to offer.

"I went to Tennessee's junior day back in January, and I got a good feel for their campus life and their facilities and everything. Their indoor facility is really nice and they consistently put players into the NFL. I've visited NC State, too, and their facilities are brand new and really nice. Coach (Chuck) Amato is a good guy, too."

Then there's the hometown South Carolina Gamecocks, a team Gray is very familiar with.

"I've been watching USC play for a long time now. I go to almost all of their games and some of their practices, and I go to a lot of their basketball games. I've got a good relationship with the players and some of the coaches. It's a good environment there."

Gray will base his decision on three primary factors.

"Getting a good education and having a chance to play early are two big things for me," he said. "But the biggest thing for me is just making a decision that's best for me and my family. I've got to do what's best for my future."

Gray said no teams out of his final group currently have the edge.

"All six teams are even in my mind right now. I'm just going to give everything a lot of thought over the next week or so, and then I'll make my announcement next Thursday. I've got a lot of things to figure out."

Gray, a Rivals.com junior All-American, has offers from all of his finalists, along with schools like Clemson, Michigan, Texas, Virginia Tech. LSU, Auburn, Maryland, Louisville and several others.

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