MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The wheels began to turn for Henry Gray’s recruitment early this year. The 4-star cornerback transferred from Miramar (Fla.) High School to Miami Central High School for his junior season and the offers started to pour in. Gray vaulted into the top 100 of the 247Sports.com rankings for the Class of 2020 with an excellent winter of 7-on-7 tournaments and local camps. Gray transformed from a prospect with only a handful of offers to a 20-offer player committed to Miami.
On Thursday, the defensive back proved his ability in live action for the first time since his recruitment exploded. The 6-foot-1, 178-pound junior started at cornerback for Miami Central and locked down his side of the field in a 25-14 road win against Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens.
“We did pretty good,” Gray told DieHards on Thursday after the game. “We’ve got tweak a little bit of stuff, but that’s always good for spring. We’re looking good right now.”
Gray played two and a half quarters Thursday before leaving the spring game with shin splints. In that extended action, Monsignor Edward Pace only tested Gray three times. All three passes fell incomplete.
Central asked Gray to make a bit of a transition this spring. The defensive back primarily played free safety for Miramar as a sophomore in 2017. He’ll line up at the position again this year, but more frequently he’ll play corner.
He spent the entire evening at Jones Field out on the edge. Most of the time, Gray lined up against senior athlete Oberde Desir. A few times, he went toe to toe with James Williams, a Hurricanes commit in the Class of 2021 who occasionally plays wide receiver and tight end.
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) May 17, 2018
Fortunately for Gray, his coach specializes in the secondary. Roland Smith, a former Miami cornerback and two-time national champion, heads up the Rockets’ staff and works closely with his defensive backs. Gray can already feel improvement running the press-man coverage Central emphasizes.
“He’s tough on me, any little mistake, but that’s good,” Gray said. “I take pride in being perfect, so he pushes me to that.”
More than a dozen schools took note of his improvement this spring. Florida State, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Florida, Auburn, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Central Florida have all offered since Gray committed to the Hurricanes on March 31.
This weekend, Gray will take his first visit since committing. The corner will make his way up to Gainesville on Saturday to see the Gators. Gray wants his next couple visits to be to Clemson and Ohio State, although he knows he’ll get back to Coral Gables, Fla., “in the near future.” Gray already knows he’ll be at Paradise Camp in July and will probably be back on campus before then.
Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph made his way out to Monsignor Pace to watch Gray and Williams go head to head. Gray said he’s still talking with Rumph all the time and even spoke with him on the phone Wednesday. It’s too early for Gray to shut things down entirely, but right now he’s not wavering on his pledge one bit.
“Coach just told me to stay humble, keep it between my parents, don’t let no outside sources sway me. I’m still 100-percent committed to Miami. I seen Coach Rumph out here,” Gray said. “We talk about everything. We talk about manhood, football stuff. He’s kind of like a father figure.”
Odds and ends:
- Williams made his most impressive play on offense when Gray was already out of the game. The unranked prospect made a diving grab for a garbage-time touchdown and threw up the U. He made about six or seven tackles while lining up at strong safety. The Rockets didn’t throw in his direction much.
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) May 18, 2018
- Laurence Seymore, another 2021 Hurricanes commit, spent most of the game at left guard for Central, which ran the ball well to his side. Maurice Smith, a 3-star guard in 247Sports composite rankings for the Class of 2019, starts at left tackle for the Rockets, but Seymore got a few snaps there in garbage time.
- Maurice Underwood had a good all-around game. The 3-star quarterback, who is committed to Marshall’s 2019 class, threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another. On Central’s first drive, Underwood threw a perfect deep ball, but the receiver dropped the pass. A play later, the Rockets ran the same play and Underwood connected for a long touchdown.
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) May 18, 2018
- Jaheem Joseph, an unranked 2020 cornerback for the Spartans, was the defensive back to get beaten on both of those deep balls. He tightened up after, though, and intercepted a jump-ball pass on a 2-point conversion attempt. The defensive back claims early offers from Louisville, Syracuse, Michigan and Florida Atlantic. He visited the Hurricanes for their spring game April 14 and underclassman day March 31.
- Unranked running back Lexington Joseph scored one impressive touchdown, breaking a couple tackles on his way to the end zone. Pitt is pushing hard for the under-the-radar 2019 prospect.