TCU senior Deante Gray projects to be among the rarest of football animals for the forseeable future: a three-way player who contributes on offense, defense and special teams.
Gray, listed as a receiver on the Horned Frogs’ depth chart, started at cornerback in last week’s game against Iowa State and also was one of the team’s top special-teams performers in that contest. TCU coach Gary Patterson praised Gray for his versatility during Tuesday’s news conference and made it clear that the fifth-year senior projects to take the field in all three roles during Friday’s game at SMU (7 p.m., ESPN).
Patterson said the seeds for Gray’s multi-position contributions were planted during fall drills, when the two discussed the idea of where Gray, who has been timed at 10.3 in the 100-meter dash, might project as an NFL performer.
“I told him that the more variety, as far as positions, that he could play, the better opportunity he has at the next level,” Patterson said, acknowledging that Gray has less “wiggle” to escape defenders than most top NFL slot receivers. “But it’s all about being fast if you’re a corner. If they can’t run by you, then you have an opportunity to do it.”
Gray said after Saturday’s victory over Iowa State that he will be happy anywhere Patterson chooses to align him. Patterson said that will be on offense, defense and special teams, where Gray projects as a return man and where he was “unbelievable on covering kicks and punts” against Iowa State. In regard to playing cornerback, where Gray last lined up during the 2013 season before last week’s game, Patterson said: “Obviously, you’re not going to be smooth about everything you do. So we’ve got to keep working on getting better. I expect him to be a lot better this week.”