Posted by Bryan Fischer
The class of 2012 has several talented running back prospects but there are two from the middle of the country that might receive the lion's share of attention - and for good reason.
Aledo (Texas) running back Johnathan Gray recently narrowed down his list of colleges to Texas, Texas A&M and TCU but it was the Longhorns who were recently given the chance to shine. Gray took an unofficial visit to Austin on Saturday to see Texas go through a spring practice and came away impressed.
“Extremely physical on both sides of the ball. It was great to see everyone fighting for a job,” Gray told VypeDFW. “When you practice like that it makes everyone better.
“I’m glad I had a chance to come down. The offense they’re installing will give them a chance to be physical.”
The MaxPreps 2012 Watch List member rushed for over 3,000 yards and 59 touchdowns as a junior. Texas already landed top running back Malcolm Brown as part of their 2011 class but head coach Mack Brown has put on a full court press (it is March after all) for the speedy running back as of late.
Even Gray's father, former Texas Tech running back James Gray, was impressed on the visit, particularly by the new coaching staff.
“Having a chance to meet the new staff was important because it gave us an idea of which direction they’re going,” the elder Gray said. “Offensively, they’re trying to get back to running the football and that is impressive. Coach Harsin and Coach Applewhite seem to have a good relationship. We also had a chance to meet and talk to returning players. They were excited about the challenge ahead of them.”
A few hundred miles north of Aledo, big name Oklahoma City (Okla.) running back Barry Sanders Jr. is starting to focus on several out-of-state schools with Alabama and Florida State standing out from the pack.
“I went to Alabama’s junior day, enjoyed myself. I haven’t gone to any other schools besides FSU and 'Bama,” Sanders told Noles247.com. “The schools that standout to me are the two that I’ve visited and been on their campus, Florida State and Alabama.
“With both FSU and Alabama, they are both prestigious programs. Alabama is coming off a recent national title win and Florida State has a lot of tradition behind them as well.”
In addition to scholarship offers from the two schools, the 5-foot-10, 190 pound Sanders holds offers from just about every program in the country, including his father's alma matter of Oklahoma State. Not expected to make a decision before the season, Sanders will closely watch what the Crimson Tide and Seminoles do on the field this year before narrowing things down.
“For me, seeing what kind of offense each team runs is just as important as the relationships I have with the coaching staffs," he told the website. "I want to see how Bama looks with the loss of Mark Ingram and Julio Jones. Then with (Christian) Ponder leaving FSU, that will be interesting. It’s something I definitely want to look at with those two teams.”
Expect to hear more from both running backs as the summer camp schedule heats up and they take other unofficial visits.