Canes Convos: Gray rising on depth chart, Odenigbo loving UM's defense

Canes Convos: Gray rising on depth chart, Odenigbo loving UM's defense

Stefan Adams
After being identified by offensive coordinator Thomas Brown as one of the hardest workers in fall camp, as well as having a big first scrimmage, Trayone “Choc” Gray has been back at running back this week after spending all of spring and the first week of fall at fullback. Gray is up to 240 pounds and now sits in the #3 RB role behind Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. After Tuesday's practice, Gray talked about why that is and where his preference on the field is.

“It feels like I’m younger,” Gray said. “It’s my fifth year. I’ve gotten hefty, but I’m stronger, I’m faster, thanks to the strength staff. I’m just competing every day, trying to do my job, study the playbook, keep pushing. I prefer running back, because fullback is new to me. But wherever coach needs me to be, that’s where I’m going to be.”

Gray has also been working as the #1 fullback, with true freshman Realus George as his backup. Gray updated the progress he’s seen from the rookie in the first few weeks of camp.

“He’s bigger than all of us, he’s very physical,” Gray said on George. “But just like all freshmen, you’ve got to learn the playbook and technique-wise. But he’s kept pushing, kept competing. I’m helping him out, he’s helping me out. When I don’t see things, he tells me, when he don’t see things, I tell him. So, he’s going to be good.”

**Coming into a new program as grad transfer is never easy, as many times it is the player’s final shot to make something of his college career. So far, redshirt senior Tito Odenigbo from Illinois has been working at second team DT with Jon Ford, but winning is more important than playing time to Odenigbo.

"Well, my biggest reason for coming here was so I can win as many games as possible," Odenigbo said. "I came from not the most successful program, the University of Illinois. We just had a bad time just adjusting to our new team, coaching staff. I wanted to go to a team that was solidified, had a chance to make progress and I can make an impact (here)."

Odenigbo already feels like he’s fitting into Manny Diaz’s defense at Miami and likes the combination of aggression and athleticism he’s seeing from UM defenders.

"It's the same type of defense, the people around here are aggressive - I'm having a good time here," Odenigbo said. "Here since we have athletic linebackers that can come up the field - it's kind of fun playing in this defense.”

One minor adjustment he’s had to make moving to South Florida from the north is the heat: he left practice early today because of hydration issues.

"Hydration is a key point."

**Sophomore DT Jon Ford reported that he’s leaned out this off-season, and now he is down 20 pounds to 295 going into 2018

“It helps in coming off the ball better,” Ford says. “Coaches have been praising me for that, and I feel good about that.”

Ford has been working second team at DT along with senior grad transfer Tito Odenigbo, who has already garnered praise from some other teammates like starting LG Jahair Jones as one of the tougher guys to block in fall camp.

“Tito’s been a beast,” Ford said. “He’s been coming off the ball real hard and he knows how to split the double team and everything. So he’s going pretty well.”

**According to head coach Mark Richt, the running game was unable to get untracked in the first scrimmage aside from a few plays here or there. Sophomore RB DeeJay Dallas weighed in on why that is, and what the group must do to fix it.

“We just got to be more consistent, that’s really it,” Dallas said. “If a play breaks down in the backfield and we look like we’re about to lose yards, coach Brown always tells us to get back to zero, get back to the line of scrimmage. That’s the best thing you can do when something breaks down and I just feel like I myself didn’t do that as well, but I just feel like that’s something to work on for the offense. As an offense, we have to get it going faster, clicking faster.”

Senior Trayone “Choc” Gray has been back working with the running backs in drills, and Dallas has an interesting way of describing what kind of a player he is.

“A bigger back, I mean, Choc is big, strong,” Dallas said on Gray. “He’s the strongest in our room, one of the fastest in our room. He may not look fast, but Choc is fast. Just 240 and built like a Mack truck… a Mack truck with a Ferarri engine. So yeah, he brings the juice. He’s the vet, the leader in our room, so I look up to him.”

If Gray is a Mack truck with a Ferrari engine, what is Dallas?

“Ford F-150 with a Ferrari engine.”

And starting RB Travis Homer?

“Travis might not look like a tank, but it’s a tank.

What gives Dallas confidence that the running game can solve their short yardage issues from last season?

“Our running back room,” Dallas said. “Just what everyone can bring, what Tyler Gauthier is doing with the O-Line, coach Searels too. You’ll see, you’ll see.”

Comments (13)

Pounding the rock against our #2 D should be a given at this point. Scaife will finish the season in the 5 simply because we need mean motherf*c#€r$ who can move people over grading out.
Over the past year, I've been the first to count Choc out, but nobody would be more happy (Except maybe him. And his mom. Also anyone else he knows in real life.) to see him on the field helping us win.

I won't believe it until I see it, but it's good news that he's looking good.
A mack truck with a Ferrari engine would be slow as ****.