The Hawkeyes’ latest football recruit specializes in contact.
Austin Gray, who committed to Iowa on Monday, plays middle linebacker for Fitzgerald (Warren, Mich.) High School. Next fall, to keep opponents from keying on him, he’ll move around on defense, switching around between all three linebacker positions. He’ll also play some fullback on offense, but not the kind of fullback with thoughts of carries and touchdowns. He’ll be a lead blocker.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder is a contact player in a contact game.
“I love the physicality of the sport,” said Gray, who had seven scholarship offers, including Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Illinois. “I think that’s what makes it the best sport in the world. That’s the way I’ve been coached, very physical, downhill and hard to the football.”
Gray joins Solon’s James Morris in Iowa’s 2010 recruiting class. Iowa’s linebacker corps should be a strength for the next two seasons, but, heavy with juniors and seniors, it will need a reload in a couple of years. Iowa coaches recruited Gray as a “Mike” linebacker, which is middle linebacker. Morris, a 6-2, 215-pounder, is likely ticketed for the weakside.
“He (Morris) sent me a text message today, congratulating and welcoming me,” Gray said. “He wasn’t on my visit, but I have his cell number. We’ll keep in touch.”
As a junior last season, Gray made 97 tackles with 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Fitzgerald is a Division III school in Michigan, which has eight divisions.
Gray visited Iowa last weekend and quickly made up his mind.
“The thing that really stuck out to me was the way the program was operated,” said Gray, who was tabbed as a top 10 recruit in the state of Michigan by Detroit News columnist Sam Webb (see Feb. 19 column with a picture of Gray here). “The way the coaches were with each other, the way the players were with each other and then the way the coaches and players were as a whole.
“. . . It’s kind of a laid-back atmosphere. You can joke around and you can have fun, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. That was very evident in watching them practice.”
Here’s some YouTube of James Morris.