As a Recruit
Coming out of Washington County High School in Sandersville, Ga., AJ Gray was rated as a high 3-star athlete by both Rivals (5.7) and the 247Sports Composite (0.8640). He was the second commit in Georgia Tech's 2015 class and picked Tech over just a handful of other offers, most notably North Carolina. The reason for this was because he committed to Tech very early on (March 11, 2014) and virtually shut down his recruitment. There was some interest in poaching him away from the Jackets later in the cycle, but Gray always maintained that he was committed to Tech.
In his time in high school, AJ Gray was very good. So good, that I can't really do justice for his accomplishments, so instead, here is a quick blurb from his bio on RamblinWreck.com:
2014 Gatorade Football Player of the Year in Georgia ... Parade All-American ... Led Washington County HS to back-to-back state runner-up finishes as quarterback and defensive back ... As senior, rushed for 2,358 yards and 39 touchdowns, including a 442-yard, eight-TD game in state quarterfinals vs. Pierce County -- both Georgia High School Association records for QB ... Completed 97-of-182 passes for 1,810 yards and 21 touchdowns ... Also had 10 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns ... Responsible for 64 touchdowns during senior season ... Was 28-2 in two seasons as starting quarterback ... Recipient of 17 Player of the Year awards ... Named to nine all-region or all-state teams ... Two-time Region 3-3A Player of the Year (2013, 2014) ... Named American Family Insurance ALL-USA Georgia Offensive Player of the Year (all classifications) ... Named Player of the Year for all classifications by Augusta Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia Sports Writers Association in 2014 ... As junior, rushed for 1,324 yards with 18 touchdowns, while passing for 1,913 yards and 16 touchdowns (only four interceptions thrown) ... Recorded 75 tackles and five interceptions as defensive starter ... Two-time All-Middle Georgia Player of the Year by The Macon Telegraph ... Two-time Channel 6 All-CSRA Player of the Year ... First-team All-State by Georgia Sports Writers Association and Atlanta Journal-Constitution ... Played in Rising Senior Bowl Game ... Selected to play in Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-State Football Classic ... Selected to play in Georgia/South Carolina Border Bowl All-Star Football Game ... Invited to participate in Nike Football Training Camp ... Also played point guard on basketball team ... Gained all-state recognition in hoops as sophomore and junior ... Was Region 3-3A Player of the Year in basketball as sophomore ... Three-time Merit List honoree ... Jersey retired at Washington County HS.
Needless to say, Tech got a good one, and they got him early.
Season and Stats
Coming into the season, I made the prediction that AJ Gray would be a starter on Tech's defense by the end of the season. Though I was wrong, I wasn't that far off.
Gray served as free safety Demond Smith's primary back-up for the majority of the year and put up a pretty nice season. He appeared in 10 games for the Jackets and finished with 21 tackles (15 solo), an interception against Duke and a fumble recovery against Alcorn State. He posted a season-high five tackles against Clemson.
Analysis and Bottom Line
Watching the games last season, it felt like every time Gray was on the field, he was able to make a play, whether it be a timely tackle or a turnover or whatever.
He proved to be a very reliable tackler, especially for a freshman, while his coverage skills were pretty adequate. Gray came to Georgia Tech as a very solid player that, at least in my opinion, would have started on some teams this year.
Now he's got three years left to show the rest of the world what he can do. To keep this short, it's going to be a good three years for Gray (and for those who get to watch him).