Georgia Tech ‘locked in like oak’ with one of state’s best

One of Georgia Tech’s football recruits is a leading candidate to be the AJC’s Mr. Football.

AJ Gray is a two-way standout at Washington County High School. He made a surprise commitment to Georgia Tech over North Carolina (where his sister plays basketball) last spring. He is projected to play defensive back in college.

And about that senior season? “He is as good as advertised,” Washington County coach Joel Ingram told the AJC.

“He’s making plays on both sides of the ball. He’s an elite player as a quarterback and as a defensive back. He makes us go. He’s just extremely smart. He’s an extremely savvy football guy. You know, has 7-8 interceptions, and has returned four of them for touchdowns. At quarterback, he has well over 1,000 yards at both passing and rushing. So he’s pretty much doing everything we knew he could do from day one.

QB-S AJ Gray (Special)

QB-S AJ Gray (Special)

“I don’t understand it. He has got to be the most overlooked kid in the state. I’d put that up against anybody. Sometimes, I don’t know how these recruiting services work. I mean, he doesn’t go run a 4.3 in his underwear. He doesn’t go to a certain recruiting service’s camp. He falls through the cracks. Guys don’t want to come out to the country and do their homework.

“But I challenge anybody to turn on the tape. If there’s as good of a player on both sides of the ball as he is, I’d love to see it because he is a dynamic football player. He’s just one of those guys that if he sees something one time, he retains it. His dad was a coach, and his older brother is our defensive coordinator. He understands the game.”

Does Gray’s coach feel like he should be the state’s Player of the Year? “Yes, I do. He is a playmaker. And we almost feel like we’ve shortchanged him. We have not used him much in the second half. The Laney game was the last time that he played three or four quarters. He is basically doing a lot of this stuff in half of the time of work.

“But we try to think Big Picture, and this is the time of year we need him the most. He’s a real level-headed kid. He doesn’t get caught up in his own hype. I don’t know if you had the chance to cover his older sister, Allisha, who is going to be an All-American basketball player at North Carolina. They are the same type of kids. — Quiet and go about their business. They have a tremendous aptitude for understanding the game.”

Obviously, Gray’s monster senior season has attracted interest from other colleges. But it appears to be too little, too late. Georgia Tech and Gray have a tight relationship.

“It’s going great — they are locked in like oak,” Ingram said. “They were the first school to come in, offer him, and made him feel wanted. People flirt now, and I think everybody thought he was just a shoo-in to go to North Carolina because of his sister. He has been strong with Georgia Tech and he has never wavered, even with the way he has been playing.

“You see guys all over the state de-committing. It’s kind of like the sexy thing to do. He’s pretty much locked in with Georgia Tech. People say all the time ‘Do you think somebody can come in and steal him?’ No, I don’t think anybody will at all. Mike Sewak has done a great job recruiting him, and he has great relationship with Joe Speed, the secondary coach.”

Note: Ingram had an interesting story to share about Gray and his future teammates at Georgia Tech: “When they were growing up, our ball boys at Washington County were him and Lance and Lawrence Austin. And now they’re at Georgia Tech and AJ will be there next season. We sit back and laugh sometimes. Their dad (of the Austin twins) used to coach with us at Washington County. We say ‘If we could have only had a ball boy vs. ball boy game back then we would’ve won the state championship.’”


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