If anyone's been concerned about the status of Maryland commit Derwin Gray – the highest-rated recruit in the Terps’ 2013 class – those worries seemingly can be put to rest.
“Oh, it’s a 100-percent deal,” said Gray, a senior offensive lineman at Friendship Collegiate Academy (D.C.) who's rated the No. 5 offensive tackle and No. 45 player in the nation.
“I talk to coach Locksley a lot. We don’t even talk about recruiting anymore. He knows that’s really not a factor because I’m going to stay committed. He’s just making sure I’m getting my grades, making sure I’m eligible to come in and play next year.”
Gray, a 6-foot-5, 295-pound prospect, chose the Terps over offers from dozens of programs, such as Florida State, Florida, Ohio State and Nebraska. He said he still may take a few visits elsewhere for fun, but knows College Park is the place for him.
“Every time I go to Maryland I get love like I’m there already,” said Gray, who’s been to every home game this year and uses “we” when talking about the team. “I talk to a few of the players, Stefon Diggs, Wes [Brown], Albert Reid, who was one of my teammates, Sean Davis and Sean Petty. And some of the other 2013 recruits, DeAndre Lane, JaJuan [Dulaney] and of course my teammates Jermaine Carter and Cavon Walker.”
Gray’s been a key cog in FCA’s 6-1 start. While his team’s been on the right end of several blowouts, his focus has been continuing to play hard on every down.
“I definitely feel like I’m ready to come in and play next year. I’m not taking a play off because the team we’re playing is trashy. I’m going hard like everybody is a five-star, working on my techniques,” he said.
The combination of Gray’s affinity for Maryland and his outgoing, energetic personality has made him a de facto recruiter for the Terps. He said he’s been working on bringing his teammate, highly regarded FCA linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, back into the fold; Ngakoue committed to Maryland along with Gray in mid-June, but de-committed a month ago today.
“I talk to him all the time. Yannick is basically reviewing his options, making sure he makes the right choice. I’m not going to hassle him and be on his back, because I wouldn’t want anyone on my back. [I tell him] that it’s Maryland and so close to home, and you’ve got a chance to get on the field early, and it’s just right there so you don’t have to take any big trips,” Gray said. “He’s always going to listen to me because me and Yannick are very close and he’s very comfortable with me and what not.”
Gray said he also was working on Suitland speedster Taivon Jacobs, but has gotten the feeling Jacobs is firm in his commitment to Ohio State. But he’s gotten good vibes from McDonough (Md.) offensive lineman Na’Ty Rodgers, the No. 20 offensive tackle in the nation.
“We could be close to getting Na’Ty Rodgers. Na’Ty really wants to play ball with me. I’ve heard from people at McDonough that really feel he’s going to come to Maryland, but I need to hear it out of his mouth,” Gray said. “I think if Maryland’s not No. 1, it’s No. 2. It’s either Maryland No. 1 and South Carolina No. 2, or South Carolina No. 1 and Maryland No. 2. He wants to play ball with me, so we’ll see how it works out.”
Gray is also friendly with Diggs, Brown and juco wide receiver Deon Long, another D.C. native committed to the Terrapins. When Gray was a freshman at Dunbar high school, Long was a senior.
“I knew Deon would be super special, so when I hear he chose Maryland, I was excited. We’ve got Wes, Stefon, Deon coming in,” he said. “And then against N.C. State we had the quarterback, [Caleb] Rowe come in and make plays. They’re playing a lot of young guys, a lot of freshmen. We’re going to be good next year, especially when the 2013 recruits get there.
“Our offense is going to be pretty special.”