Bryce Gray is one of the best players from the Fairview, Illinois area in the Class of 2025.
The 5-foot-2, 195-pound Gray, who attends Abraham Lincoln Elementary, is an imposing player that works on both sides of the ball as a defensive tackle and offensive guard.
Gray who plays for the Junior Flyers, has received plenty of recognition during his outstanding career, such as winning Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2018.
Gray is humbled by the accolades and the chance to showcase his skills.
“It allows people to know that I can accomplish things and work hard and that I’m not just an average player. It lets me know that my hard work is seen by others and motivates me to work harder,” Gray said. “It was fun to be able to play against other teams and be able to see different levels of competition. It helped me to see how our team matches up against other teams from different areas.”
No matter the opponent, on each snap Gray is determined to give it his all.
Gray is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Gray steps between the lines.
“My mindset is to always get to the ball no matter where it goes and to create big plays for my team,” Gray said. “I want to help my team be the best by being my best.”
Gray has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the gridiron. Gray tells why he enjoys the game of football so much.
“I love the competition and the toughness necessary to play the game,” Gray said. “I love grinding out victories and celebrating after with my teammates in the locker room.”
Gray has learned many valuable lessons from playing football that he applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Playing has taught me that I can do whatever I put my mind to,” Gray said. “Also, it has taught me that I have to work hard on and off the field.”
Gray recalls his favorite football memory.
“My favorite memory of playing is when as a defensive lineman I got a touchdown for my team,” Gray said. “It was special because it was the first touchdown I’ve ever scored and gave me a special feeling. It reassured me that I can do anything I set my mind to and attempt.”
Steph Thomas has coached Gray for five years with the Junior Flyers.
Thomas explains the best parts of Gray’s game.
“The best part of his game is quickness off the ball and ability to create turnovers,” Thomas said. “He has good pad level on both sides of the ball. He’s very aggressive, quick and physical on the D-Line. On the offensive line, he is good at run blocking.”
Gray takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Gray makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.
“I demonstrate being a good teammate by helping my teammates by giving them tips on how and what to do on the field to be successful. Also, I try and keep the team motivated even when we aren’t winning. I also help by being an example by taking responsibility for my mistakes, being respectful, and working hard,” Gray said. “The best advice I’ve given teammates is to never give up.”
Thomas adds that Gray is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.
“He’s a very vocal leader and field general. It’s like having a coach on the field,” Thomas said. “That attitude is contagious to the rest of his team.”
Gray is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“I’ve learned that I have to work hard as a player. I’ve also learned that no one owes you anything. You have to work for what you want. Also, that there is always someone ready to take your place, so you have to play like you have something to lose. My coaches also have taught me that you have to be as good off the field as you are on the field,” Gray said. “The best advice my coaches have given me is to work hard every day, even when football season is over.”
Thomas is an advocate of Gray’s capabilities.
“He was the only defensive lineman with a pick-six. He’s very clutch. He forced a fumble to win a game and had a sack for a safety,” Thomas said. “He puts himself in a position to make big plays. We wouldn’t have had the season we did without his efforts.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Gray also has a high level of football IQ as well.
Gray has excellent football awareness that puts him in position to thrive.
“He uses his strength as a physical attack to the game and strip technique to average two forced fumbles a game ” Thomas said. “He’s a very smart football player that maximizes his skill-set for the benefit of the team.”
Gray is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.
“He has a great work ethic. He has skill and position training three times a week and he watches hours upon hours of film,” Thomas said. “You never have to tell him to work hard. He takes the initiative on his own.”
Thomas explains why he compares Gray to these players.
“i compare him to Warren Sapp and Ndamukong Suh,” Thomas said. “He has the same type of qualities at his position that makes him comparable to those two players.”
Gray patterns his mentality after this standout.
“A professional player that I look up to is Aaron Donald because despite his size he is one of the best players in his position,” Gray said. “He’s not as tall or big as other players but he goes out on the field and works hard.”
Gray is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.
“My goal on and off the field is to be the best I can be,” Gray said. “On the field I want to excel at my position and help my team as much as I can. Off the field I want to have great character and be successful at whatever I decide to do.”
Gray has his sights set on becoming a member of the Miami Hurricanes.
“My dream college would be Miami Hurricanes because they have swag. Their defense has a lot of confidence,” Gray said. “It’s the top of team I would like to be a part of because it fits my personality.”
Gray lists reading as his favorite subject in school.
“It’s something I’m good at and it comes easy to me,” Gray said. “Also, I learn a lot from reading.”
Thomas outlines the areas of improvement that will take Gray’s game to the next level.
“We’re working on his speed and hand technique,” Thomas said.
Thomas believes the sky is the limit as long as Gray continues to stay hungry.
“He can be a 5- star defensive lineman because of his work ethic, IQ, love for the game, leadership, and going the extra mile mindset,” Thomas said.
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