University of Cincinnati wide receiver Devin Gray, recently named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, enters his senior season as one of the Bearcats top on-field threats.
When wide receivers coach Joker Phillips describes Gray, it sounds like he’s describing the Energizer Bunny.
“He goes and he goes and he goes,” said Phillips. “That’s probably one of the biggest strengths that he has. When you go and you go and you go, you get opportunities.”
Gray took advantage of those opportunities in his first season with the Bearcats after spending two years at Sierra College in California. Devin was named UC’s Newcomer of the Year as he hauled in a team-high 58 receptions for 860 yards and five touchdowns.
“It was my first year and I was getting acclimated from the change from JUCO to Division I football,” said Gray. “It took me a while to get used to it, but I think it was a great learning experience.”
Devin made a strong impression on new head coach Luke Fickell and his staff during spring practice when he battled back from a knee injury.
“He got hurt in practice two and during spring break he stayed here and did everything he could possibly do to be ready when we got back,” said Phillips. “That tells you the character that he has and the desire that he has to play this game.”
“We don’t want injuries to happen and try to prevent them as much as possible with some of the things that we do to take care of their bodies,” said Fickell. “But when it happens, you see what their attitude is for trying to get back. Some guys have the attitude that they love this game and want to get back in any way possible.”
“It’s a blessing to be here playing Division I football,” said Gray. “It’s my last year here, so missing anything is like missing a lifetime. I don’t have the time to miss anything.”
When the Bearcats begin fall practices at Camp Higher Ground, the receiving corps will be led by Gray and junior Kahlil Lewis who had 48 receptions for 605 yards and five touchdowns last year.
“We have to find somebody that can make some plays on the outside,” said Fickell. “The game has become so much more about one-on-one matchups now. The guys are challenged all of the time and you have to have somebody feel confident that they can make a play.”
“Devin and Kahlil have to be the leaders in our room,” said Phillips. “If you’re a leader in that room, than you’ve got to be one of the guys that we try to get the ball to. You’ve got to design stuff to try to get the ball into their hands and he and Khalil will be two of those guys.”
True freshman Thomas Geddis and Jerron Rollins also gained valuable experience last year, and Gray says that he and his fellow receivers are eager to show what they can do in 2017.
“We’re a really tight group,” he said. “We all like each other, we all want each other to do good, and we all need each other to do good. Coach Phillips expects me as an older guy to lead by example and be vocal.”
“He’s an unbelievable kid,” said Phillips. “That’s what you want in your room – a leader who is the first one in there and the last to leave.”
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