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Notre Dame Football

CB Christian Gray Continues STL Pipeline, Loving Notre Dame Decision

February 17, 2023

Notre Dame signed an impressive 2023 recruiting class on the field, but off the field, Marcus Freeman’s first class is also filled with electric personalities. 

Cornerback Christian Gray has one of the most interesting student-athletes in the class as the St. Louis native is humble, yet has a quiet confidence that borders on cocky. Gray enrolled early last month and quickly realized he made the correct decision. 

“It's been really great, actually,” Gray stated. “Really humbling, actually amazing. So this has been really, really different from where I live. I'm just getting used to it now. Everywhere I walk around, I see greatness. Everybody's building up, everybody's around you. It's a phenomenal atmosphere that I like to be around.” 

Classmate Drayk Bowen probably set the record for most recruiting trips to Notre Dame, but Gray wasn’t far behind. The visits provided Gray with comfort at Notre Dame, but being in college has been an adjustment. 

“What was different actually is the classes,” Gray said. “The classes are really, really different. I just gotta get used to it. The schedule, I gotta get used to that. That's what's different from recruiting, but everything else from recruiting, what they told me, how they said it was would, they were right about it. It's gonna be hard. And I chose hard.” 

And yes, even Gray will admit he doesn’t know why he took so many visits. 

I kept coming back because really sometimes I didn't even know why,” said Gray. “My mom said you should go every time. We're like five hours away. It's just a slight drive (rolls eyes). We visited like 11 times. There were some reasons behind that because I actually wanted to see for myself if this place was really a great fit for me.” 

One aspect of Notre Dame that hasn’t changed from recruiting is Marcus Freeman and Mike Mickens. Gray has seen both remain the same coaches as they portrayed during the recruiting process, which is a significant reason why he picked the Irish. 

“They never changed,” explained Gray. “Like for the recruiting process, they were always real with me. That's what I always told them, be real with me coach, tell me real things. How you are in personality, how you are in practice, be real with me. That's what I always wanted. Coach Freeman and Coach Mickens were always real with me. That never changed. I count them as family.” 

Genuine is often a word said by recruits when talking about Notre Dame’s staff and it might mean highlighting parts of Notre Dame that might turn some prospects off. 

For Gray, it was a conversation around academics that sold him and his mother on Notre Dame being the right fit. 

“They told me always education was first,” Gray explained. “I didn't even have to tell them that. Like in my family, education is big. We always want to put education first. It would go God, education, football. When he told me that, I was surprised by that because he was the first coach to ever talk to me, for real, first about education.

“So me and my mom looked at each other. I was like, wow mom, he's talking real stuff to me actually, the football program, life in general, how he went through life and his choices. He just kept being real to me, just showing me real love. I call that real.”

Notre Dame has also officially started a pipeline to St. Louis and Gray continues to add to that. Running back Kyren Williams will get credit for being the first, especially if the Irish can ink 2024 standouts Jeremiah McCllelan and Ryan Wingo. 

“It's fascinating actually,” Gray stated. “A lot of kids actually did come here from St. Louis. I was surprised by that and I really did not know Notre Dame when I was in St. Louis.

“But now, through me, Jeremiyah Love, Kyren, Gabe (Rubio), it's started to grow more. Everybody in St. Louis is like, 'Oh, did you hear about Notre Dame getting this cornerback? Did you hear about this running back, D-line?' It started to grow in St. Louis. I was like, wow. I was surprised by that. But it was great to hear that.” 

Spring football will start soon and it will bring out another side of Gray. 

“I have this switch,” said Gray. “So outside of football and inside of football, it's just like a switch. So outside of football, I'm just this goofy, hype person, just laugh, trying to make everybody laugh. If you're having a down day, I can lift your spirits up man. I'm right there for you, my boy. But like at football, I'm just locked in like I don't respond to nobody. I just stay locked in.” 

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