Friday, April 22, 2011

Can Johnathan Gray Break America's 57-Year Old Rushing Record?

by Jeff Fisher
High School Football America

Eight touchdowns and 323 yards...that's what I witnessed last December when I saw Aledo High's (Texas) Johnathan Gray lead his school to the Texas Class 4A Division II championship.

Yes, Gray put-up those numbers in a championship game against La Marque in a 69-34 Aledo victory inside Cowboys Stadium.  You can check-out those first half highlights below.

Today, Gray decided to stay "in-state" by giving his verbal commitment to play his college ball at the University of Texas.  However, before putting-on the burnt orange, Aledo fans still have a full-year of the 5-star running back.

That got me to thinking about whether Gray can improve on last year's numbers, and whether he'll be able to touch a national record that has stood for more than 50 years.

Last season Gray, who's father was a running back at Texas Tech, rushed for 3,221 yards and 57 touchdowns.  The 57 TDs broke Kenneth Hall's state record for entering the end zone in a season.

Now, Gray sets his sights on another Hall's record.  The all-time U.S. rushing record of 11,232 yards that Hall accomplished between 1950 and 1953.

Gray needs an incredible 4,240 in his senior season to catch Hall.  He's also 3,295 yards short of Texas' #2 guy Traylon Shead of Cayuga, who was the last guy to attack Sims' incredible record.  Shead ended-up with 10,290 yards and a state record 141 touchdowns.

Shead is also on the Texas roster after redshirting last year as a freshman.

Now for those of you that don't know about Hall, who was known as the "Sugar Land Express", here's a little background....

Hall was a running back in Sugar Land's single-wing offense.  In 1953, he became just the second running back in U.S. high school football history to rush for more than 4,000 yards in a game.  He finished his senior season averaging 337.1 yards per contest.

According to the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations' record book, Hall's best game was on October 9, 1953 when he carried the ball only 11 times for 520 yards!  He also returned a kickoff 64 yards; ran back a punt 82 yards; and returned an interception 21 yards while scoring seven touchdowns.

He graduated high school with 17 national records.  After high school, Hall played three years for Texas A&M under Paul "Bear" Bryant.  Professional he played in the NFL, AFL and Canadian Football Leagues, but never reached the epic status he did as a high schooler.

What will it take for Gray to pass Hall?

Hard to say, but I do know that it will be one incredible season to watch, if Gray does break the record!

Most Rushing Yards (Career)
Source: National Federation of High School Athletic Associations

1. Ken Hall (Texas) 11,232 yds.
2. Michael Hart (New York) 11,045 yds.
3. Traylon Shead (Texas) 10,290 yds.
4. Toney Baker (North Carolina) 10,241 yds.
5. Terrance Wilkes (Alabama) 9,668 yds.
6. Toby Gerhart (California) 9,662 yds.
7. Troy Fleming (Tennessee) 9,442 yds.
8. Tyrell Sutton (Ohio) 9,426 yds.
9. Brad Hocker (Missouri) 9,193 yds.
10. Demetrius Summers (South Carolina) 9,076 yds.

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