Through his sophomore year, Gray was a basketball and football player at Skyview. At the time, he was 6-foot-4, 200 pounds.
But then he turned his focus solely to football.
“The coaches said ‘we’ve got a spot at offensive tackle open to anyone who wants it,’ ” Gray recalled. “I went out and won it. Then afterward they said ‘you’re going to need to put on some weight.’ ”
He bulked up that summer and played his junior season around 230 pounds.
“I felt like I played well,” Gray said. “It was my first time just playing offense, and I held my own against some good competition, like Tristan Souza from Camas, who is now at Washington State.”
Last summer, when it became clear that football wouldn’t be played in the fall, Gray stepped it up another level.
“I was sitting in my yard, and I was weighing 240-245 at the time,” Gray said. “I had a lot of friends who were bummed and not doing much. But I decided it was time to get serious.”
He again hit the weights and bulked up, all the while peppering every college program he could with emails and game film.
“I was just sending emails out every day to every Division 2 school, Division 3 school, NAIA in the region,” he said. “And I started to get some offers.”
After hearing a friend received interested from Valparaiso, Gray decided reach out to the Crusaders.
After hoping to become a Division I basketball player when he was young, Gray now wanted to see if he could attract Division I Valpo for football.
“I emailed them, and they said ‘OK, we’ll keep in touch,’ ” Gray said. “So then I started emailing the coaches every day, for like a month.”
Persistance paid off when Valpo gave him an offer, which he accepted in December.
“I thought if I could get a chance to play, I might get some more offers,” he said. “Coaches have seen my film, but that was from last year when I was 235. But then I thought that I really liked the coaches at Valpo, and it’s a really good school. I’m planning on being a business major. Finally, I decided I wanted to go some place that wanted me.”
Gray’s name didn’t pop up on many recruiting lists.
“I just got rated the other day,” he said. “I got two stars. I don’t think anyone knew who I was.”
Gray is hoping to make a name for himself playing for the Storm. He will play this spring at nearly 280 pounds.
“I just ate a lot; I ate a ton,” he said. “And I was lifting weights. That really was something I didn’t get serious about until my junior year.”
Skyview had two other players sign with college programs on Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period for college football.
Xavier Owens, a first-team all-4A Greater St. Helens pick at defensive back in 2019, signed with Western Oregon.
Mason Packer, who earned Trico League honorable mention playing quarterback, receiver and linebacker at King’s Way Christian in 2019 before transferring to Skyview last spring, signed with Portland State.
“Mason is a tremendous athlete too,” Portland State coach Bruce Barnum said. “He has a great future.”
Gray said other Skyview teammates are weighing offers.
“And I think there will be a few more coming,” Gray said. “I think we’re going to be really good. We are going to be big up front.”
Another local lineman, Columbia River’s Dylan Dean was one of two locals to sign with Central Washington on Wednesday.
“Dylan loves the sport and will develop with our weight program into a strong (offensive lineman),” CWU offensive coordinator Zach Tinker said. “Columbia River has a long tradition of producing tough, versatile (linemen) and Dylan is in that mold.”
Mountain View’s Jude Mullette, a 3A GSHL first-team all-league punter and kicker, also will be heading to Ellensburg.
“Jude is a raw talent who has the leg ability to do some big things at CWU,” Central special teams coach Spencer Capitani said. “He is a high character student-athlete who I can’t wait to get to campus and start working with.”
Joining Owens at Western Oregon will be Evergreen’s Jaylen Fite, a first-team all-3A GSHL selection at receiver and defensive back in 2019.
Union receiver/defensive back Jake Bowen, a second-team all-4A Greater St. Helens League pick at receiver in 2019, signed with San Diego.
And Prairie wide receiver/defensive back Dion Garrett signed with Presentation College in South Dakota.
These players joined Camas’ Jacques Badolato-Birdsell (Nevada) and Jake Blair (Oregon State), as well as Ridgefield’s Bailey Meek (Army), who signed during the early signing period in December.