University of Miami tailback/fullback Trayone Gray, a popular fifth-year senior out of Miami Carol City High, goes by the nickname ‘Choc’ — short for Chocolate — and according to fellow tailback DeeJay Dallas runs a lot faster than his 6-2, 240-pound frame might suggest.
“Right now he’s a Mack Truck with a Ferrari engine,’’ said Dallas of Gray after Tuesday’s practice.
“Choc is big. He’s the strongest in our room, one of the fastest in our room. He might not look fast but Choc is fast. He’s like 240 and that’s like a Mack Truck. He brings the juice.’’
Gray might be one of the elder statesmen of these Hurricanes, but he said Tuesday he feels younger than ever. After sitting out 2016 because of reconstructive knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Gray only played in five games last season, rushing seven times for 42 yards.
His career rushing numbers: 36 carries in 16 games for 211 yards (5.9 yards a carry) and three touchdowns.
Gray began practicing at fullback this past April but will also play tailback, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said.
“Feels like I’m younger,’’ Gray said. “I feel more healthy. I got stronger [and] I got faster thanks to the strength staff. I’m just competing every day, trying to do my job, study the playbook and keep pushing.
“...Wherever coach needs me to go, that’s where I’m going to go.’’
Gray, who was a quarterback at Carol City, ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in 2015 as the No. 3 back behind Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton. He had 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries his freshman season in 2014.
If you’re wondering about that nickname, Gray explained its genesis in 2015.
“Choc came from my mama,’’ he said. “When I was a baby I didn’t really want no bottle or nothing. I just ate a lot of chocolate. No bottle. So she just named me chocolate. I just ate chocolate candy. I [did not] like milk.’’
UM coach Mark Richt said on Monday that Gray is “the guy who has probably helped himself more than anybody this camp. He’s not done playing tailback here for us.’’
Added Thomas: “I’m so proud of that dude. I said it [Monday] at [Media Day], his development not just as a player, but as a person — what he’s done off the field, being more responsible, being accountable. He has always been a very talented guy— super fast, straight-ahead [runner], very strong. He’s limited some east and west [running]-wise, but we kind of work around that.
“His maturity level has come along so fast this past spring and summer. I’m really excited about what he’s doing.”
So, what about freshman fullback Realus George, a 6-2, 255-pounder that UM brought in from Atlanta Pace Academy to play fullback?
“Realus George, he’s bigger than all us,’’ Gray said. “He’s very physical. But just like all the freshmen, he’s got to learn the playbook technique wise.
“I’m helping him out. He’s helping me out. He’s gonna be good. He’s gonna be real good.”
▪ True freshman quarterback Jarren Williams was not at practice Tuesday morning during media viewing.
“Jarren Williams was a limited participant in practice,” said UM athletics communications director Camron Ghorbi. “He is being evaluated by our medical staff.”
UM did not elaborate on Williams’ injury.
Once he left early in practice, he did not return.
▪ Also missing from the open portion of practice Tuesday: redshirt senior defensive lineman Demetrius Jackson. Jackson has returned this camp from knee surgery. The good news is that Jackson was seen walking off the field in full uniform at the end of practice. He looked fine.
NOTE: The Miami Herald is now offering a digital sports-only subscription for $30 per year. This is unlimited access to all Herald sports and sports stories, thus allowing you to comment in the section below as many times as you wish. Click right here to get started immediately.