Gray is the No. 1 wide receiver for the Reed football team, one of the most potent offenses in the local prep world, and a player who Raiders head coach Ernie Howren proclaims is one of the best receivers in the state. As his foes watch his game film and try to figure out how to stop him, the tape does little to justify the lightning-quick speed and soft hands that will haunt them on the gridiron.
“What he does is he creates fits for any defense that he plays,” Howren said. “You have to come up with a game plan for one guy on our offense. You can’t just go out and say ‘We’re going to put our best guy on him,’ because that’s not going to work. You have to come out with some sort of special coverage for him every single game because he dictates that.”
After finishing his junior year leading the Raiders’ receiving corps with 904 yards on 53 receptions, along with 10 touchdowns, and helping Reed win the Nevada Northern 4A title, Gray returned this season on a mission.
“For the team, of course we’d like to make it to state. That is our main goal,” Gray said. “As for personal goals, I’d like to try to break the records at the school.”
Halfway through the season, Gray may be well on his way to leaving his name all over the Raider record books in a number of categories.
With just six games played, Gray has almost matched all of his numbers from a season ago. The senior has been on the receiving end of 53 passes, totaling 780 yards and he has found the end zone nine times. Gray has not always created mismatches on the football field though.
Since the time he could walk, Gray was playing basketball. This only seemed natural seeing that his dad, Michael ‘Fly’ Gray, was a shooting guard and a key member of the first University of Nevada basketball team to earn an NIT berth during the 1978-79 season, later earning him an induction into the university’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Growing up, Gray would take on his father in pick-up games, but was never able to beat him. It was those games and the lessons he learned from his dad that made Gray the athlete he is today.
“My dad always taught me how to compete,” Gray said. “He always taught me how to be the best. He never lets me slack. He’s always on me for all my stuff. That’s how I got my competitive attitude. He used to whoop me. He still thinks he can beat me, but it’s a different story now.”
The same could be said for those who are currently trying to beat Gray in football.
Until the seventh grade, Gray was still new to the sport of football. Never donning a helmet and pads before then, a friend and neighbor got Gray to try out, where he started off slow.
“I started off on the bench,” Gray said. “Then I started playing corner and then I started playing receiver around eighth grade. I didn’t know what I wanted to be at the time. I barely knew what football was. I just played wherever the coach thought I’d be good at.”
Unfortunately for those now lining up across from Gray, he found his place as a wide receiver.
“It’s kind of like a hobby. It’s something I love to do and I do it everyday,” Gray said. “I look forward to playing football. It makes my day. It’s just something I love to do.
“Scoring a touchdown is always the best feeling and I like to run, so that’s just the perfect combo. I always personally like to think that I can get somebody, but I usually keep doing what I’m doing and if they don’t give me room, I’m going to take advantage of it. I always try to work my hardest no matter what. I think that’s what sets me and our whole team apart. We all try hard.”
It is that work ethic that makes Gray’s coaches look forward to working with him everyday.
“With him, what I think is so fun to watch is for a guy that is as talented as he is, he doesn’t just sit on that,” Howren said. “If you watch a practice, he works as hard as anybody out there. He’s matured over the past years and his work ethic has continued to just make him a better and better receiver.”
The same can be said about Gray on the hardwood.
“It’s fun to coach someone who is responsive and who wants to get better, and that’s the type of kid Devin is,” Reed’s head basketball coach Dustin Hall said. “He listens and takes constructive criticism. He just works his butt off. He will do whatever you ask him to. He’s pretty much what you dream about having as far as a student-athlete goes. He’ll run through a brick wall if you ask him and he’ll have a smile on his face while he is doing it.”
Gray does not just put his efforts forward on the field or court, though.
“The same things that make him such a great athlete are the same things that make him a great student in the classroom as well,” Reed Athletic Director Ron Coombs said. “He works hard all the time and he has a great attitude. It’s very rare you don’t see him walking around with a smile on his face. He’s just one of those kids you’re very appreciative of to have walking your hallways as a teacher and coach.”
Set to graduate in June, Gray said he is not sure what lies ahead for him but he plans on going to college and playing either basketball or football. While his dream school is Cal, he said whatever he can get, he will take. If anything has been proven, he will do it with his headphones on and a smile on his face.