Freshman cornerback Benjamin Morrison has been a revelation for the Notre Dame program. Since being named the starter against California in week three, Morrison has quickly become a playmaker for the Irish, currently leading the team with five interceptions. It isn’t every day that a true freshman, who wasn’t even an early enrollee, comes right in and immediately demands early playing time.
Morrison has done just that, and with a massive exclamation point.
With how Notre Dame is recruiting and developing the cornerback position, the question turns into which future talented cornerback could be the next early contributor for Mike Mickens and the Irish. When you look at the talented 2023 cornerback haul that the staff has able to close on, it is hard to argue against St. Louis (Mo.) DeSmet Jesuit standout Christian Gray.
Heading into the season, Gray was considered an extremely nuanced football player who exhibited technique and football IQ well beyond his years. He also boasted a really nice blend of length and overall athleticism to project favorably long term.
After seeing his senior film, Gray took his game to a whole other level. The maturity to his game is still there, as is his outstanding spatial awareness and understanding of technique. From a physical perspective, that was the biggest jump for the St. Louis star.
Gray has already been considered a notable recruit from a rankings perspective. The 6-1, 175-pound cornerback currently sits as the No. 68 overall player and No. 7 cornerback in the 2023 recruiting class according to the On3 Consensus Ranking. He peaks as the No. 56 overall player according to Rivals.
So it should be no surprise that he was very talented. A part of a 7-6 DeSmet Jesuit team, Gray was given quite the daunting tasks of matchups throughout the season.
In an early portion of the season, Gray and his team were tested against IMG Academy. That led to a matchup with Ohio State wide receiver commit Carnell Tate, who Notre Dame fans should be very familiar with. Gray also had a big matchup with star 2024 pass catcher Ryan Wingo in their victory over St. Louis University early in the season.
He also matched up against another talented 2024 wide receiver in Christian Brothers star Jeremiah McClellan during the year. On nearly a weekly basis, Gray was given challenges against some of the elite pass catchers in all of high school football.
Even with those challenges, Gray passed all those individual battles with flying colors. The cornerback position is a spot that needs players that have supreme confidence and a short memory, especially in the modern era of high octane passing offenses.
It is easy to see just by the swagger Gray brings that he is up for any challenge. There is an exuberance to his style, clearly ready for any challenge put in front of him.
From a physical perspective, the Missouri standout was clearly filled out and brought a higher level of physicality compared to his junior film. He was also extremely twitchy, showing the talent to change directions and easily flip his hips to turn and run with even the more explosive wide receivers that he saw.
There was a marriage between the savviness and refinement that Gray already possessed and physical maturation as a senior. Whether Notre Dame will need Gray to play early on is a question. With Morrison entrenched, on top of the possibility that Cam Hart returns, the demand may not be there.
One thing is certain, however, after watching Gray’s film: he will be ready if called upon. You can flip on his matchup with Tate, or his two interception game against Wingo, and it becomes very apparent. Gray is a future star, and could contribute to the program very early on.
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