One of the best aspects of any sport is overcoming adversity. It comes in various forms, ranging from working your way out of slump to securing a win to just making it onto the field. For RB Trayone Gray, a series of setbacks threatened to derail a promising career at Miami before it even got started. Instead of wilting, Gray attacked the obstacles placed before him, carving out a role for himself in the Hurricanes’ offense.
Before the U
Like most standouts tend to do in high school, Gray played many different positions for Miami Carol High School. Like Boobie Miles, Gray did everything but paint the fence. He was a QB, WR, RB or simply fill any role so the team could get the ball into No. 5’s hands. The versatile prospect drew interest from some smaller schools, but after attending a Miami Hurricanes camp in June, he received an offer from the team on the same day. Gray committed to the U in a whirlwind day. The commitment would become official on 2014’s National Signing Day. Although other offers came in for his services, Gray stuck to his word, enrolling at UM in late August.
For those who don’t know, Trayone Gray also goes by the name “Choc”, the short form for Chocolate. It’s a nickname given to him as a toddler since he always had a football in one hand and a Twix bar in the other. Upon his enrollment to UM, Gray looked to hold onto both chocolate bars and the football as he embarked on a career as a Hurricane.
Life as a Cane
Immediate success is not alway guaranteed when a prospect makes the transition from high school to FBS ball. Apparently, Choc did not receive this memo. Despite showing up to camp late, due to academics, the RB was able to make his first carry a memorable one. In his first collegiate game against FAMU, Gray rushed for 10 yards into the endzone. Talk about making a statement with your first carry. However, the Hurricanes have never been short on running backs, given that Duke Johnson, Joseph Yearby and Gus Edwards were also vying for carries. Rumors that Choc was having difficulty grasping UM’s offensive system only complicated matters. Gray would only carry the rock six times all season, averaging four yards-per-carry and playing in four games as a freshman in 2014.
Biding his time, getting stronger in the weight room and taking lessons from the upperclassmen ahead of him, Choc moved up the depth chart the following season. Slotted as third running back, Gray saw a bump in carries in year two. Logging snaps in six games that season, Gray earned 23 carries, rushed for 145 yards and caught one pass for 11 receiving yards. The sophomore RB was also featured on a few returns by the offense. With more experience, confidence was on the rise for Choc entering his junior season.
This is where Gray came face-to-face with his first setback.
Thanks for all the prayers I appreciate it everyone God bless— Choc Gray (@Godschild__choc) August 17, 2016
Praying for a speedy recovery for my man @Godschild__choc— Thomas Brown (@iamthomasbrown) August 17, 2016
In a mid-August practice, Gray tore his ACL — confirmed by MRI in subsequent days. The injury would wipe the junior’s entire 2016 season. It was a year that Gray was projected to split carries with Gus Edwards at the team’s second and third RBs. Instead of running out on the field, Gray was stuck rehabbing, trying to get back to where he was before the injury.
After posting some of his most epic feats in the weight room on social media, it appeared that Gray was more than ready to hit the field as a redshirt junior in 2017. Despite a season-ending injury to Mark Walton, Gray received just seven rush attempts for 42 yards, adding a single reception for six yards. It was the first season in his career where the tailback did not rush for a touchdown. Gray appeared to be an afterthought on the Canes offense, especially with RB Travis Homer atop the throne as Miami’s lead back. With DeeJay Dallas taking some snaps, and QB Malik Rosier carrying the rock on designed runs, the opportunities were few and far for Mr. Gray.
“Just trying to get on the field wherever I can [...] Wherever coach needs me to go, that’s where I’m going to go. So, I’m going to learn fullback and running back.”
— Trayone Gray via The Palm Beach Post’s Anthony Chiang
That was Trayone Gray’s mindset entering his fifth season at Miami. With his window of opportunity barely cracked open, Gray was open to do everything and anything to see time on the field in his final year with the Hurricanes. With attributes that many would kill for, Gray is a weapon that has yet to be truly unleashed on the college football stage. According to teammate DeeJay Dallas, “He’s the strongest in [the running back] room, one of the fastest in our room. He might not look fast, but he is fast. He’s like 240, like a Mack truck. He’s like a Mack truck with a Ferrari engine.”
Gray’s two rushing TDs have helped Miami find the endzone in short yardage situations, and he’s been one of the more reliant players when the team needs a yard or more. Don’t call it a comeback; instead, consider it a reward for years of hard work. Choc’s commitment to improving himself, finding time on the field, overcoming a significant knee injury and carving out a role for himself are what make his journey admirable.
For that, we pay respect to him for his work and dedication to the University of Miami.
Salute to Choc Gray!