Thursday, August 26, 2010
Gophers' MarQueis Gray does double duty
By Adam Rittenberg
MarQueis Gray has been a busy man during Minnesota's training camp, to say the least.
When the Golden Gophers practice only once, Gray spends most of the session with the quarterbacks and sneaks a few reps here and there at wide receiver. During two-a-days, Gray works with the quarterbacks in the morning and the wide receivers in the afternoon.
MarQueis Gray, who caught this 7-yard touchdown against Cal last season, has been working double duty in practice.
The workload is heavy, but Gray embraces his role as No. 2 quarterback and potential starting wide receiver. It sure beats the alternative.
"I’m going to have a lot more opportunities to be on the field," Gray said. "Being on the sideline next to coach [Tim] Brewster, I'm not going to do any good sitting next to him. He wanted to find me a position, and I'm ready to take it head-on."
The 6-4, 230-pound Gray played a bit of wide receiver in 2009, catching six passes, including a 7-yarder for a touchdown against Cal. He spent spring practice competing for the starting quarterback job, but lost out to incumbent Adam Weber.
Gray remains the team's next option should anything happen to Weber, but Minnesota wants to use his size and athleticism at receiver, a spot that needs a boost after the departure of superstar Eric Decker. Although Gray was known for his mobility at quarterback, he had to play catch-up, quite literally, at receiver.
"There's a lot more running," he said. "I was a little bit winded going deep with the receivers, getting a lot of reps. But now I’m getting back in shape. I'm good now."
Gray admits he's not the team's fastest receiver -- the title likely goes to junior Troy Stoudermire -- but he brings other strengths to the group.
"I'm the tallest," he said, "and weight-room wise, I'm the strongest."
He also has good hands, which run in his family.
Gray's older brother DaMarcus Ganaway is an all-conference wide receiver at Kentucky Wesleyan who has led the team in receiving for three consecutive seasons and enters his fourth year as a starter. Another older brother played cornerback in high school.
"We used to have competitions when we were younger," Gray recalled. "We'd do 1-on-1s. I'd throw it or I'd go out and run or I'd guard one of them. We just switched back and forth.
"We all have good hands."
Gray also has an advantage over the other receivers: he sees the passing game from both perspectives.
"If you're the quarterback, your job is to know everyone's position," he said. "So it's a lot easier moving from quarterback to receiver. Now if I was having to [switch to] quarterback, that'd be a lot harder."
Gray credits new Gophers wide receivers coach Steve Watson for remaining patient with him during the transition. He also looks forward to building chemistry with Weber, who Gray calls "the general."
"I have to clean up a few things, but I've got confidence in myself," he said. "I can catch the ball, so that's all I'm worried about."