December 31, 2007

Gray Diary: Injured in the first practice

Four-star running back Jonas Gray of Detroit Country Day has agreed to do a diary for Rivals.com about his experiences leading up to and during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game will be played at 1 p.m. EST on Jan. 5 and broadcasted live on NBC. Players reported to San Antonio on Sunday and practices began on Monday. Gray will share his thoughts from San Antonio with Rivals.com each day.

San Antonio - Last night me and Boubacar Cissoko, who I'm rooming with, we decided because we are in San Antonio and how hot it was we decided to put the air on. When we woke up this morning it was pretty cold in our room so the first thing we did was turn the heat on. We realized we couldn't put it up that high just because we were from Michigan.

I got up about 6:45 and I went and got my helmet because my helmet was getting adjusted. About 7:30 we had breakfast and had some Army guys talk to us about the mental aspect of the game, mental preparation and things of that nature. That was good to hear.

At 10:00 we got to practice and the first thing we did was a lot of stretching. Guys were just happy to be out there and there was a lot of joking around. Basically what we did after that was some team drills and ran through our plays.

I found out that we were running a spread offense, which was okay, and I also realized that we didn't have a fullback. I'm used to running out of the I-formation, so that's the only thing about it, but I'm excited just to be playing with those guys.

I was able to see Terrelle Pryor in action for the first time and he really is a great player. He's the real deal. I was also able to see Star Jackson who passes the ball really well and also runs well. I was able to see Kyle Rudolph too and he's a Notre Dame guy. He caught a long ball and got a bad turf burn, so that was funny. I was able to see John Goodman too and he is really fast. He's unbelievably fast. I was able to see Patrick Johnson and he's nice. He caught a one-hand interception. I didn't realize he was that big. I was messing with him and telling him he was going to USC. Just to be around the guys was good.

We had our 7-on-7 period and what we realized about the game is that the linebackers couldn't blitz. I you don't have coverage skills as a linebacker in the All-American game you won't play very well. Star told me he was going to start picking on guys as soon as he sees who can't cover very well, so the first person he picked on was Arthur Brown. I think Arthur can cover pretty well.

We had a run period that was more for the offensive and defensive lines, not for us. We have all running quarterbacks, so we had a running play that was a fake to me and Terrelle came right behind me so I blocked Brendan Beal and I popped him pretty good, but one of the lineman came into my legs and injured my ankle. It wasn't that bad. I thought it was a bad sprain, but once I got up and started walking away I realized it wasn't that bad and I was fine. The other good thing about it was it happened on Monday and I will have time to rest. I'll be ready for Saturday.

When I got the injury I automatically started thinking about all the people who told me I shouldn't play in the game because I could get hurt, but I remembered what the Army guys said about the mental aspect of the game and sometimes you have to tough it out. I'm glad to be here and I realized the things I needed to do to get better, so I was fine.

Guys are joking around all the time. Brice Butler is by far the biggest jokester on the team. The guy that committed to Ole Miss, Darius Barksdale is a funny guy too. We don't understand anything he's saying, that's why he is so funny. All the guys were huddled around talking about the different bugs they have in their city. In Mississippi they were talking about how big their bugs were and Maryland was talking about how big their bugs were.

I had a chance to talk to a few guys about Notre Dame. I talked to Kenny Tate and he was telling me how he always liked Notre Dame, but never got an offer. The guy that was recruiting him was the quarterbacks coach who left before Ron Powlus came in, so I was saying to him I would talk to Notre Dame. If we can get Kenny Tate, that would be a big thing.

Basically our plans for tonight are we are going to dinner. After that we are going to get freshed up and maybe go down to the local mall down here. Other than that, it's up in the air. We have to be back in our rooms by 12:30.


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