On paper, the 2013 Texas Longhorns have plenty of leaders — both in terms of performance and respect of their teammates — on both sides of the field. Through the first three games of the season there had been some strong individual performances from a few guys in Texas’ 1-2 start, but not the type of performance from any single player that stood out to the point you could suggest a leader was emerging.
That all changed last night in Texas’ 31-21 win over the Kansas State Wildcats in Austin.
Sophomore running back Johnathan Gray ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, all the while pumping his teammates up after each carry, on the sideline and on the way back to the locker room at half-time where he could audibly be heard giving words of encouragement. On a team where Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks were the nominal leaders — at least the anointed leaders, anyhow, who were the face of the team provided to the media — Gray is emerging as the functional leader.
The leader who is letting his play speak volumes and encouraging others to follow his lead.
The Texas coaching staff has been liberal in their praise of the Aledo native since the season began, as much, it would seem, out of a need for him to be aware his performances are making a mark on the program as for him to know just how important his role is in its present and future success.
Just a few days ago, Mack Brown said that Gray’s contribution to the program, and work ethic had been “unbelievable” and that he was a “warrior”. With these comments, many Texas fans flooded social media asking why if this was the case was Gray not seeing a dominating share of the carries in the Texas backfield and involved heavily in each and every offensive possession.
That question was answered last evening as Major Applewhite made Gray the primary option in the backfield. With Gray’s career-best performance and the flashes of amazing speed and vision he showed throughout against a defensive unit with no real chance of slowing him down, you can expect for him to be a workhorse for the Longhorns going forward, especially given the injury concerns to David Ash, Mike Davis and other key components of the Texas offense.
If there was any lingering doubt about who leads this Texas team that doubt has been temporarily erased.
Look no farther than No. 32.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and Business Analyst for Rant Sports.