Eleven of the 15 high school seniors that have committed to play their college football careers at NC State are among the 1,000 players nationwide identified by Sports Illustrated as candidates for the publication's 2020 High School All-American team.
Each day for the next two weeks, SI's All Wolfpack will take a closer look at each of those players and how they project to help the program once they arrive on campus.
Today, its the first player to commit to coach Dave Doeren's Class of 2021: Wide receiver Julian Gray.
Wide receiver isn't one of NC State's most pressing areas of need in the Class of 2021 with six incoming freshmen at the position and young receivers such as Devin Carter, Keyon Lesane and Jasiah Provillon already in the program.
But that doesn't diminish Julian Gray's importance to this year's recruiting effort.
His significance, above and beyond his natural speed and on-the-field credentials is that he was the first player in the current cycle to commit to coach Dave Doeren.
Gray is a 6-0, 185-pound speedster from Hopewell High School in Huntersville who who has posted a verified 40 time of 4.49. He caught 44 passes for 890 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging better than 20 yards per reception as a high school junior last season.
In a Twitter post announcing his commitment, Gray called his decision to attend State a "lifelong dream come true."
Although speed his his greatest asset, he is also a skilled route runner with excellent body control that allows him to adjust on the fly and make difficut catches. He also has the potential to be an impact player for the Wolfpack on special teams as a kick returner.
Here is how SI All-American evalutes him:
"Has the ability to change direction with one-cut-and-go footwork is fantastic. Good open-field speed. For a receiver, good leg drive. Very good flexibility. ... Quick hands when turning around to catch the football. Gains extra yards with one-step cuts. Changes speed during his routes to fool defensive backs.
"Gray is an explosive athlete that’s beginning to fill out into his frame. He can make multiple defenders miss in tight quarters, and he’s adept at changing up his speed during routes to keep defenders off balance and can make plays after the catch."
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