When Deante’ Gray received a scholarship offer to play football at TCU, it took him about seven seconds to commit his future to the Horned Frogs.
The wide receiver from Westside High School in Houston originally committed to play football at Stanford University, but his recruitment process changed when Mark Byrd, head coach at Westside, informed him about uncertainty with his Stanford offer a few weeks ago.
“He told me to tell him any other schools [I would be interested in],” he said. “The first thing I told him was TCU if we could make that happen.”
Gray, who officially visited TCU last weekend, said the campus, coaching staff and players were a major part of his decision to accept the offer once the scholarship was extended.
“I was pretty blown away, to be honest, with everything,” he said. “The people — just how everybody was up front. It felt like I’m supposed to be there [TCU]. It just felt like somewhere I could see myself for four or five years.”
Gray said he looked forward to the challenge of playing against good athletes every week in the Big 12. He said he believed the transition to the new conference would be “smooth” because the Horned Frog football program was constantly rising.
B.J. Catalon, who played as a running back with Gray at Westside, enrolled at TCU this semester after graduating from high school early. His presence at TCU helped Gray feel even more comfortable with his decision to become a Frog, Gray said.
“It definitely contributed to me going there, also,” Gray said. “He’s always been pushing for us to play together, and it seems like whenever we are together we always compete and always bring our best. I know, going up there, I’m going to be able to get the most out of my abilities, and I’ll be competing with some great guys, including B.J.”
Byrd said Catalon and Gray were not just great athletes also quality individuals off the field.
“They’re the guys that were on our unity council,” Byrd said. “They made team decisions. They were mentors to many here on campus. They’re people that our other players elevate to, and they just have that sixth sense. I think both of those kids can be poster children for TCU.”
Gray’s Twitter profile contained only a Bible verse: “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he shall lift you up. — James 4:10.” He said it could be easy to get caught up in the hype of being a highly sought after recruit and in life’s blessings but that his faith kept him grounded on and off the field.
“I’m very spiritual person, and I always want to be a role model to players and younger people to know that you don’t have to follow the crowd,” he said. “You could be a good person and live by the Bible and still have a good time living your life. I just try to hold myself as best I can and lead by example.”
His recruitment officially came to an end Wednesday when he signed his letter of intent to attend TCU.
The whole process can be tough, Gray said.
“The recruiting process is pretty crazy,” Gray said. “As [the offers] keep coming and you get down to tough decisions, you’ve got to have a strong family and strong support system to keep you up, and that’s exactly what my family is.”
Head coach Gary Patterson has not told Gray whether he will play offense or defense at TCU, but Byrd said Gray would succeed wherever the coaches see him best fit.
“We just wanted to get the ball in his hands, and after that he made the rest happen,” Byrd said. “He’s got great yards after catch. He understands the game. He plays with speed. He has great angles, and they’re going to be able to do what they want with him, whether he’s a return man or plays defense or offense. They’re just getting an overall athlete.”
Gray said he was ready to get to campus and start competing with the current football players.
He said he had one message for TCU fans.
“Know that you’re getting a hard worker, a great listener, somebody that every game you’re going to know he gave it his all and a playmaker, really,” he said.