Tahlequah Daily Press

NSU Sports

August 13, 2013

Gray on the go

Northeastern State linebacker Jack Gray arrives at fall camp after busy summer.

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

It was a summer unlike any other for Jack Gray and his family. It wasn’t a world tour, by any means, but it certainly included a lot of destinations.

“We’ve been everywhere,” Gray surmised.

Gray has his brother Jonathan to blame for that. After all, it was because of Jonathan that the Gray brothers and the rest of their family were going nonstop from May until now.

“We’ve been to LSU to watch (Jonathan) play down there,” Jack Gray said of the trip to Baton Rouge, La. “Then we went to Denver and spent a week up there.”

The reason for following Jonathan around was because of his coveted right arm. The University of Oklahoma ace helped pitch the Sooners into the Super Regional of the NCAA tournament in June. While in Cajun Country, Jonathan Gray found out that he was the No. 3 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

“I have nothing but love for Colorado,” Gray said shortly after he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies.

Shortly after Oklahoma was eliminated by LSU in the Super Regional, the Gray brothers traveled to the Rocky Mountains, so Jonathan — a junior with the Sooners in 2013 — could sign with the Rockies.

“I went with him to Denver and spent the weekend there,” Jack Gray said. “Then I got to watch him play a couple of times.”

From there, Jonathan Gray was assigned to rookie league ball with the Grand Junction Rockies. However, he didn’t stay there long, getting promoted to Class A Modesto (Calif.) after only four starts in Grand Junction (Colo.).

“He jumped three levels,” Jack Gray said of Jonathan, who has posted a 0.90 earned run average in his first two starts with Modesto.

“He’s going to be with the (Tulsa) Drillers here in a few weeks.”

For Jack Gray, it’s a cool experience to be able to say his brother — the younger sibling, by 15 months — was one of the top picks in the MLB draft this year.

“It’s awesome,” Jack Gray said. “He deserves it, if anybody does.”

Unlike Jonathan, Jack Gray is still hanging around for his senior year of college. The Northeastern State linebacker has one more season left to team up with fellow linebacker, Langston Jones.

As a tandem, Jack Gray and Jones make up one of the most potent linebacking duos in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

“They could be,” NSU head coach Kenny Evans said after the first day of fall camp on Monday. “Langston led the league in tackles last year. He was also third in the nation, and now a preseason All-American. Those two, I think they got people’s attention last year.”

As a junior in 2012, Jack Gray racked up 77 tackles, good enough for a tie at 14th in the MIAA. He also had four tackles for loss and two pass break-ups.

This season, Jack Gray said he’s hoping to make even bigger plays, like hauling in interceptions of forcing fumbles.

“Playing middle linebacker, my main focus is to take on a lot of blocks,” said Gray, a Chandler native who is 6-foot-1, 220 pounds.

“That’s always my main goal; to spill the play the right way, or leverage it one way and blow stuff up. But this year, I do want to focus more on being a ball hawk and getting my hands on some passes and start looking for strips when we have guys held up. I really just want to fly to the ball everywhere.”

What will help Jack Gray the most is his intellect, Evans said.

“He has a lot of determination,” Evans said of Gray. “He is a very intelligent young man that never makes mistakes. You only have to tell him [something] one time. He has so much heart and determination, that he’s going to find a way to get the job done.”

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