Donald Gray believed his Mississippi State career would begin back in 2013 after he signed with the Bulldogs as a three-star recruit out of Memphis, Tennessee.
But due to academics, Gray’s arrival in Starkville would be delayed until January 2015.
“I was really disappointed,” Gray said. “I’d dug myself a hole with the whole situation when I was in high school but I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t going to get in and didn’t have the grades that I needed until the last semester of my senior year. I thought I still had hope but by then it was too late.”
Although it took extra time to get to the destination he wanted, there was a silver lining to Gray’s story after all. After enrolling at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Gray injured his ankle which kept him off the field for his entire true freshman season and provided him with a medical redshirt.
It meant he would have three years of eligibility remaining when he arrived at MSU.
“I was beyond blessed and am grateful for that,” Gray said. “I wasn’t happy about the injury but the fact that I still have two more years to learn to be an elite receiver and learn from these great coaches that we have, I’m glad and excited about it.”
Gray went on to play for the Wolfpack in 2014 where he was selected as a NJCAA All-American. he caught 55 passes for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns while also returning 20 punts for 419 yards and three more scores.
The 5-foot-10, 193-pounder appeared in all 13 games at State this past fall. Gray hauled in 21 balls for 386 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His best outing was a four-catch, 140 yard performance against Northwestern State in which he had a 49-yard score.
“I thought I did pretty good being new and coming from juco,” Gray said. “There was a lot of different terminology to learn and different ways that they run routes and different ways they do things on and off the field.”
Gray’s sophomore success already has him looking forward to the spring and attempting to secure a starting spot.
“I’m excited about the spring,” Gray said. “We’re going to have a lot of competition. I just want to go showcase what I learned from De’Runnya (Wilson), Joe Morrow and coach G (Billy Gonzales). I want to correct everything and be perfect. I’ve learned so much from those guys.”
After waiting an extra year and a half to get to Mississippi State, Gray appreciates the atmosphere and closeness that he shares with his new teammates following his first season.
“Things have been great here,” Gray said. “I’ve come into a brotherhood. It’s a real family. You’re going to have your ups and downs because you don’t always see eye-to-eye with your brother but the beauty of it is the longer we were around each other the more we learned one another. It’s been amazing building all these friendships.”