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Notre Dame Football

CB Christian Gray Remains Humble While Impressing During Notre Dame's Fall Camp

August 17, 2023

Christian Gray has never lacked confidence or personality, but the St. Louis native has built his foundation around remaining humble. 

The former four-star prospect arrived in January to go through spring ball, which will automatically humble most players as it’s a quick introduction to college football.

Gray walked into The Gug confident, but he credits cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens and his teammates for making it clear he belonged at Notre Dame as he went through the normal rookie ups and downs. 

“You’re going to feel like when you come in here, it’s a lot,” Gray stated. “And so once I came in here, I talked to Coach Mickens and talked to my teammates. They all told me, just, ‘You belong here. That's why you should have confidence. We recruited you, we wanted you here, you committed here because you belong here.’ So once that got into my system, I’ve felt like I’ve had more confidence on the field every day.” 

After a strong start to spring ball, Gray did go through a little adversity as he tore his meniscus in practice seven. There was no surgery, but Gray did have his knee cleaned up and was back to himself shortly after the Blue-Gold Game. 

Looking back at it, the injury might have expedited Gray’s development as he was able to take mental reps and simply learn from Notre Dame’s deep cornerback room.

“I kept training my body and my mind,” explained Gray. “Every day, every day, running the plays, learning the plays, getting quicker asking questions. Being confident in my questions and my answers. That just gave me more confidence in myself over the plays.” 

Coaches can hold back giving freshmen high reviews, so it speaks volumes when Mickens spoke highly of Gray’s development before he takes a snap in a game. 

“He goes out to compete every day,” said Mickens. “He understands the standard of what we want. He works on his craft. He’s around those older guys, understands what the expectations are and what they’re thinking. He’s just a sponge. He goes out there and he shows it and competes at a high level.” 

Perhaps the most significant piece to the puzzle for Gray has been his physical development. He’s had eight months in a college strength and conditioning program, which has allowed him to take his game to the next level physically. 

“I got a lot stronger than I expected to be,” laughed Gray. “Right now, I’m at 187. I got muscles I didn’t even know about. It’s been great.” 

Gray did experience a bit of the freshman wall in fall camp. It can make or break some young players, but it wasn’t an issue for Gray as he just dialed himself in even more. 

“Mostly over fall camp, you run into this hump,” stated Gray. “It's going to be hard to get over it every day. I ran through it the first week of camp and I was like, ‘Alright, I gotta get over this hump.’ 

“I just kept working, working, working, and I got over it. Then it just started going up.”

Now, Gray did know what to expect after going through spring practice, but it also goes back to his supreme confidence in himself to push him through adversity. 

“He’s confident,” Mickens said. “Spring, trying to feel it out, he was just getting there. But he understands he could compete at the highest level and compete with anybody on the field as long as he’s detail-oriented. That’s what he is. He’s doing good with it.” 

Gray also isn’t afraid to ask questions in meetings, which isn’t necessarily something you hear about freshmen, but it’s another reason why he’s made an impression. 

“They told me there's no such thing as a stupid question,” Gray stated.  “But just just ask questions because you want to make sure to be trustful and everything else.” 

Notre Dame’s cornerbacks group as a whole will enter the season with six corners who Mickens feels can play and Gray will play a role in the rotation. 

The ceiling for the group? 

All-American Benjamin Morrison believes it’s up to how good they want to be. 

“We have all the right key components to become one of the best secondaries in the country. It's really up to us how good we can be day in and day out. Push each other.

“Having Cam (Hart), Christian, he's talented and young and he's talented. Reminds me of myself. Just the way he comes about everything.” 

Morrison isn’t the only cornerback who has noticed Gray’s ascension during preseason camp as Jaden Mickey also spoke highly of the freshman. 

“I see the same things I saw in Ben Morrison and even myself as a freshman,” Mickey stated. “Wanting to learn, hungry on and off the field. It’s been fun watching him.” 

As for what Notre Dame fans can expect from Gray, it starts with confidence to make plays. 

“I can say this, but I’m good at a lot of things,” said Gray. “I just haven't shown it yet. But getting better at my press and everything else, mostly, just keep getting better and better and learning and learning.” 

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