(Third in a series.)
It’s been an interesting year for Logan Gray. The 2009 season started with many Georgia football fans calling for him to play more in relief of -– or in place of –- senior quarterback Joe Cox. And the season ended with rumors swirling that Gray would switch positions before spring practice, leaving quarterback for perhaps wide receiver.
Turned out, the calls for more playing time were unheeded and the rumors were overblown.
So after a 2009 season that saw him rarely on the field, Gray, who will be a redshirt junior in the fall, looks forward to a spring competition with Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, both of whom will be redshirt freshmen, to succeed Cox as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. (Note: Recent signee Hutson Mason, the record-setting Lassiter quarterback, won’t arrive in Athens until the summer.)
Gray, Mettenberger and Murray met last week with beat reporters who cover the Bulldogs. I’ve previously posted transcripts of the sessions with Murray (click here if you missed it) and Mettenberger (click here if you missed it). Now, here’s the interview with Gray, a dual-threat quarterback who signed with the Bulldogs out of Rock Ridge High School in Columbia, Mo., and, it should be recalled, was rated the nation’s seventh best QB prospect by ESPN as a high school senior.
There’s been so much talk about a position switch. Did you think a lot about that, or were you a quarterback in your mind all along?
Gray: I’ve thought about it some. I think ultimately I just want to try to do what’s best for me and what’s best for our team and helping out the team. I’ve thought about it, and nothing has really changed, dating back to anytime really. I’m planning on playing quarterback. If it doesn’t work, I’m not, like, opposed to playing receiver or trying to play defense or whatever it may be. Ultimately I just want to try to help the team win and, you know, contribute.
Did the coaches leave a decision on a possible position switch up to you?
Gray: The coaches never really even confronted me about the whole issue. It was kind of interesting that all this whirlwind talk started brewing up and everything because it seemed to me like Coach [Mike] Bobo was planning on me playing quarterback through the spring. . . . This spring I am planning on playing quarterback.
So how do you view the quarterback competition going into the spring?
Gray: I feel like obviously we’re looking for a starting quarterback, and I feel like I can compete for it. And after last year, I didn’t get quite as much experience as I would have liked, but I feel like I’m ready to go this spring and I’m excited about spring practice and what’s going to happen. Obviously we get caught up so much in these individual battles and stuff that we forget sometimes that we’re still Georgia and the whole goal is to win games and get better as a team. Obviously I want the best player at quarterback to play who’s going to help us. If it’s not me, I’m going to try to contribute any other way I can.
How did you cope with all the will-he-switch-positions talk?
Gray: There’s always going to be stories coming up about something. That just kind of got brought up somehow. It didn’t really bother me. I stopped talking to the media for a little bit at the end of last year, just to let it all clear over and not be a distraction from the team or anything like that. Like I said, I’ve just let it all smooth over . . . and we’ll see what happens on the field before everybody starts talking about this or that.
Do you see the quarterback competition as all three candidates being on an even keel, or inside the program do people view someone as the favorite to win the job?
Gray: I would like to hope that everything is on an even keel, but obviously the coaches have in mind what they think is going to be best for the team. So we’ll see what happens. Really, there’s nothing that me or Zach or Aaron can do besides give it our best shot and do everything we can to prove to the coaches we should be the No. 1 guy. I guess all you can really worry about is yourself. I’m just trying to focus on what I can do and not worry about what other people are doing.
How did you stay positive after not playing as much as you thought you would last season?
Gray: I think everybody on our team has just got to keep a straight-ahead mindset going, especially after a tough year last year. There were a lot of things, besides me maybe not getting as much playing time as I would have liked, that just didn’t go our way. But obviously dwelling on anything that happened in the past is not going to get me anywhere, so I’ve just been trying to work hard this offseason and do what I can to get better and get stronger and get faster and make sure there’s no way they can keep me off the field, even if it’s not quarterback.
How much pressure did you feel last season when you’d get on the field for such short stints [i.e., one play]?
Gray: That was one of the toughest parts actually. You’d come in for a play, and maybe that play didn’t work. Maybe you got a zero-yard gain on a run play or something. You’d try not to, but you’d be stressing because you’d want to make something happen so bad so that you could get more plays or get more opportunities. . . . We’ve all got a clean slate coming into this year. And we’re 0-0, so get back to work. And spring practice will just ultimately be big in deciding what’s going to happen in the future.
How much have Aaron and Zach grown as quarterbacks [since enrolling at UGA in January 2009]?
Gray: They’ve definitely grown a ton. I think coming in early helped both of them a lot. They’ve been through spring practice before. Just maturing from from a knowing-what-to-do standpoint and a comfort standpoint is probably the biggest thing. I think that’s with any young quarterback; it takes a little while to get the comfort behind center that it takes to be successful with the game speed that goes on.
The three of you bring different things to the table. Will that make the competition potentially harder to judge?
Gray: Possibly. Maybe you’d see exactly where everybody stood if they all had the tall, strong arm or [were a] fast guy like maybe me. I think ultimately the coaches are looking for who is going to be the most consistent, who’s going to be a leader of this team, who’s going to be able to provide playmaking skills that will help us win ballgames. Whether they get it done one way or the other way, whoever is getting it done best is going to be the guy.
Just to be clear, you expect to play quarterback exclusively this spring?
Gray: Yes. Yes.
You expect to win the starting job?
Gray: Yeah, I think you’ve got to have that mindset. If you’re not expecting to win the battle, then there’s really not a reason to compete, you know what I mean? So I’m trying to do everything I can to win the job, and I believe in my heart that I can win the job. So we’ll just see what happens when it comes time to compete.
What do you think about sports fans’ tendency to focus on the newer guys [in this case, freshmen Murray and Mettenberger]?
Gray: It’s definitely something that [happens in] all sports. ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Or, ‘who is the new up-and-coming guy?’ There’s always going to be excitement about the young guy. It’s crazy that even people were saying stuff when Matthew Stafford was playing here or other great players [were playing here] at different positions: ‘We got this other guy coming in; he’s going to be really good.’ But that’s just a part of it. You can’t worry about it. . . . If you’re worried about other things beside yourself, you’re going to be focusing on the wrong thing.
Thanks for reading these interviews, folks.
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