Cedric Golden

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Johnathan Gray’s seeing the big picture

Jordan Spieth shows us what we can expect over the next 15 years.

Posted August 18th, 2015

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Remember back before the 2013 season when running back Johnathan Gray said he wanted to put up 1,500 yards of total offense?

There wasn’t anything wrong with having lofty goals, but Gray posted just 841 yards before he tore his Achilles in the 10th game against West Virginia. Spin ahead to last week, however, when Gray was asked after practice what number would constitute a successful season for him.

Texas Longhorns'(32) Johnathan Gray celebrates a touchdown against Iowa State in the first half an NCAA college football game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)
Texas running back Johnathan Gray celebrates a touchdown against Iowa State in the first half an NCAA college football game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)

“Right now it’s just helping this team in any way possible to win games,” Gray said. “We’re not here looking at yardage or looking at what stats we can up. We’re looking at W’s.”

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What I see from Gray is a desire to win and not worry about numbers, which is the perfect attitude. He has matured to the point where he knows his stats will be fine if this team wins.

Honestly, I thought he would be a home run hitter when he came in from Aledo, but it hasn’t worked out that way through his first three seasons. With that said, this is his chance to prove he can be a showcase back, and he will have more than enough reps to show he can be a leader.

He’s viewing the game through a different lens from when he got here. He’s been through something with the injuries. Now is his chance to go out on a high note.

Jordan Spieth is a monster. One shot during his final round at the PGA Championship was an indication of what we can expect for the next 15 years.

Facing an awkward lie on the par-5 16th, Spieth tried every sort of stance before settling on one that would have made the best contortionist blush with envy. Somehow he blasted out, and the ball rolled inches from the cup for an easy birdie.

“I’m telling you, he must have gone to Hogwarts,” CBS analyst David Feherty marveled.

Spieth quite simply is never out of a hole because he just might be the most talented golfer on the tour. Not freakishly talented like a young Tiger, but golf-talented. He’s got all the shots and the arrogance of a riverboat gambler dealing from the bottom of the deck.

The world’s new No. 1 didn’t win that third major this year, but he showed in his runner-up finish what it will take to keep him out of first place in coming majors.

Good for Jason Day, who finally got over the majors hump, but how many guys shoot a 20 under par and are still looking over their shoulder at the guy in second place? That’s how good Spieth has become. One slip-up from a front-runner can mean doom against this guy.

Under Armour signing Spieth to a 10-year deal is the smartest money move in sports this year, much smarter than Adidas giving James Harden $200 million over 13 years. Spieth’s deal is also believed to be in the neighborhood of $200 million, which will be a steal if he keeps playing like this.

On the Achilles injury front, what is it about former Longhorns and this debilitator? Defensive tackle Chris Whaley was sent home from Cowboys camp after tearing his Achilles last week. Then, on Friday night, Giants rookie safety Mykkele Thompson tore his Achilles during a preseason game.

On the good side, former Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross has signed a free-agent contract with the Cleveland Browns. Ross has been working out in Austin the past few months after missing all of last season with – dare I even say it? – a torn Achilles.

Ross – one of three DBs from Texas’ 2005 national championship team still playing in the NFL (along with Oakland’s Tarell Brown and Tennessee’s Michael Griffin) – still has plenty of ball left in him, but you can’t make a team if you’re not in camp, so it was good that Cleveland rang him up.

He has a great chance to stick in a secondary that boasts Pro Bowler Joe Haden, former Green Bay Packer Tramon Williams and 2014 first-round pick Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State. Ross figures to help out as a nickel corner and could even play some safety, which goes back to his cross-training days at Texas under former Longhorns DB guru Duane Akina.

“Sitting out a whole year allowed me to grow and become a better man mentally and spiritually,” Ross posted on Instagram and Facebook. “You may not know or even agree with God’s plan at the time but just believe and have faith that he will guide you in the right direction if you just submit to his will.”

Contact Cedric Golden at 512-912-5944.

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