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After rough start, Gray believes in Kelly

Feb 9, 2012, 8:25 PM EDT

Jonas Gray Shamrock

It took a while for the light bulb to go on, but when it did, Jonas Gray finally showed the talent many had expected from the blue-chip prospect from Detroit. One of the top prep running backs in the country, it took until Gray’s senior season to make an impact on the field, but from his game-breaking run against Pittsburgh until his season-ending knee injury on Senior Day, Gray became one of the most explosive running backs in the country, and briefly toyed with Irish immortality as he came up just short of chasing down one of George Gipp’s records.

Even after a major injury, Gray was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he’ll have an opportunity to impress future employers while showing off the fine work Dr. James Andrews did on his injured ACL. As he trains and rehabs down in Florida, Gray also caught up with Blue & Gold’s Wes Morgan, who had an illuminated interview with one of the Irish’s bright spots in a season that saw too much go wrong.

Gray spent much of the interview explaining what goes into his workouts, a grueling six day a week routine that should get him back and healthy for Notre Dame’s pro day. But the really interesting stuff came courtesy of Gray’s candor when discussing his relationship with Brian Kelly, who replaced Charlie Weis halfway through Gray’s Irish career.

Here’s more from Gray, who shows a great deal of belief in a head coach that brought the best out in him.

We’re behind Coach [Brian] Kelly 100 percent. He’s like the president; you may not agree with him all the time, but he’s our leader and you have to be behind him 100 percent. The time is now. Coach Kelly is going to right the ship. We don’t have all the talent in the world coming back next year, but we have a solid group. I know those guys are going to give it their all and Coach Kelly is going to make sure this thing is turned around.

Sometimes with fans, the patience level isn’t always where it should be. I know a lot of people were talking about this year being the year, but I think next year will be the year. It’s always a year you don’t expect for a team to show what it’s really about. Coach Kelly is the guy for the job.

There were times my junior year when he and I clashed and I wasn’t agreeing with what he was doing. But when you buy into it, it all works.

He is very misunderstood as a person and as a coach. People see the way he acts sometimes on the sidelines. That’s just his competitive, fiery spirit. He just wants to win so bad. The best way I like to describe him sometimes is just an average guy who will make some mistakes, but he’s a phenomenal leader. The atmosphere in the program is just so much better than I can remember.

Notre Dame needs a guy that’s not afraid to speak his mind and who is going to do all he can for the University.

The one thing about Coach Kelly that I don’t think he’s totally understood is the academic side of it. That part of it he’s still learning. Notre Dame is held to such higher marks as far as the athletes.

As far as his ability to coach and as a leader and the way he runs a program, there are guys from other schools that say they don’t even see their head coach actually coach. Coach Kelly is right there in the middle telling you what to do. He tells you the truth.

Gray’s intelligence shines through in this interview, and it’s nice to see him acknowledge the friction that existed early in their time together, something Kelly had spoken openly about as well. It’s also interesting that Gray mentioned the academic side of things. After seeing the learning curve that an alum like Charlie Weis had with admissions, it’s interesting that Kelly, who had coached at schools with limited scholastic restrictions before ND, has looked in-line with the school’s administration.

Great get by Morgan, who will be running a continued series with Gray leading up to the NFL Draft.



  1. nudeman - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Huh? Not trying to be overly circumspect here, but:

    ” … an average guy who will make some mistakes…”

    ” … I don’t think he’s totally understood the academic side …”

    Other than that how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

    If ever there was a tepid endorsement, this would be it.
    And this from a guy who I’d think would be unequivocally in his corner considering how his career took off under Kelly.

    And KEITH, you write the headline as “Gray Believes In Kelly”??????
    This is ridiculous. Did you read between the lines here?

    This was an awful interview. Take this off the board, Keith.

    I don’t think Jonas has a career in PR in his future.

    • notredamegrad - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:03 PM

      “…but he’s a phenomenal leader. The atmosphere in the program is just so much better than I can remember.”

      “Sometimes with fans, the patience level isn’t always where it should be….Coach Kelly is the guy for the job.”

      • andy44teg - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:55 AM

        Nude..I think you ARE being overly circumspect’re reading way too much into what some kid says..Jonas wasn’t trying to say ANYTHING between the lines..”average guy” meaning “normal guy” and “make some mistakes” meaning “human” From the way I took the interview it sounded like he was ready to run through a brick wall for BK by his senior year…I’m real sure Jonas is going to throw his head coack under the bus when all he did his first two years is waste a year of eligibility, and sit and watch everyone else play and then get to his senior year where he earned the starting position midway through the year and was on pace for well over 1,000 the way..scored his FIRST TD (of 12) in an Irish uniform, as well. Chill out, man!

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:58 AM

        You guys who want nothing but happy talk kill me. Grow up

        If you stick a microphone in front of a 21-22 year old kid in this situation, I’d expect nothing but superlatives. “BK is GREAT”; “ND is GREAT”; “I expect a national champ in the next couple years”. etc

        Instead he made some VERY equivocal comments
        I’d expect this guy, WHOSE CAREER BK RESURRECTED, to be about 99.9% positive

        Instead what we got was a shade above 50%. He damned BK with faint praise

        How can anyone read this and interpret differently?

      • andy44teg - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        Because we’re all not LOOKING for it like you do…”you hear what you want to hear”

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM


        First, I’m totally in BK’s corner on this.

        Second, this seemed like a half hearted endorsement from a guy who owes EVERYTHING (football-wise) to BK. And he came out with THESE COMMENTS?? Like if someone asks you how you like his new girlfriend and instead of whispering how much you’d like to schtup her you say “well, she seems to dress nicely”.

        Maybe he didn’t mean it this way; and maybe as someone pointed out he was saying “he’s human”. And maybe I’m misreading it, as most of you seem to think.

        But I would have expected an unequivocal endorsement from Jonas Gray.

      • c4evr - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        The words of a 22 yr old shouldn’t be considered the barometer of BK’s success or failures. Look at his record – and more importantly, the details. Holtz’s second year after a rough first year was a 3 game improvement and a 4 game improvement over that the championship year. That should be the standard of measure. My biggest gripe against Kelly is his approach… Unaccountability and arrogance are not endearing qualities unless you are in a BCS game year after year. In my opinion, BK can coach and recruit, but can’t inspire these kids in the least. Holtz brought the last 2 ND championships, and it’s looking like a long wait for the next one until we find a motivator.

    • irishpubcrawl - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:30 PM

      way to kill the buzz nude. we love you jonas, thanks for everything last season. bk is making strides, he’ll deliver

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:01 AM

        If you got a buzz off this then I’m sorry for you
        Or maybe jealous
        Must be nice to get off so easily

    • dickasman - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      Nude put down the rolled up hundo bill man recruiting seasons over mang! I put mine down as well, permanently this time I decided. Any updates on Shaquille Oneal? Run into his brothers aunts cousins 3rd daughters coach? Is he pulling a dingleberry and going to university of Scottsdale community college or what? I’m just glad Keith is making an effort to keep us entertained during the downtime.

    • dickasman - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:17 AM

      Hey I’m not a bk guy either, McDonald’s here myself but I’ll give him this year. Believe me another 8-5 season and there will be1000000 lil mini nudemans running around here.

    • bb90grad - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM


      Don’t know that you deserve 83 thumbs down, but do think you’re reading too much into it. Sometimes it’s best to just turn off that big brain for a while.

      If all Gray offered was rainbows and unicorns, I would disregard that as pure spin. I’d rather see some good and bad and make up my own mind.

      Do agree healthy debate is good. Every group needs the devil’s advocate and the critical thinker, even if they get annoyed by them. Keep on keepin’ on.

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM


        You know what’s odd? I even gave myself a thumbs down
        Just kind of wanted to join in

        In the end, all is cool.

        But I’m even going to give THIS message a thumbs down for the hell of it

    • papadec - Feb 11, 2012 at 2:38 AM

      Holy Guacamole nude! Is that your all time high for “thumbs down”? You dropped more than a hand grenade into the outhouse, this time. Wait – let me add another (thumbs down)!

  2. trbowman - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    All Day Gray!

  3. trbowman - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    I’m looking forward to watching him tear up the NFL!

  4. irishinmich - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Even though Gray wasn’t recruited to ND by BK, he sure seems like an “RKG”. I felt awful when he went down with his knee injury. He was certainly looking like NFL material at the time. I hope his rehab gets him back to 100%, and he makes some noise at the next level.

  5. bernhtp - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    The money quote is “The atmosphere in the program is just so much better than I can remember.”

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:14 PM

      The atmosphere might be better, but to be fair, the atmosphere is always different when you a senior that starts on saturdays vs. a sophomore or freshman that didn’t sniff the field.

  6. ajw21 - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    fyi: Gray did sniff the field as a freshman. Weis wasted a redshirt yr for a few plays if I remember correctly. I was also thinking today and how different it would of been if Clausen & Tate would of stayed another yr. Does Rees play a down this yr? Does Crist start every game this year? What was our record last yr & this yr? just getting into the what ifs. Football is over and I am bored! hahaha! Go Irish!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 9, 2012 at 11:06 PM

      I didn’t know we were having a whatif party? They’re kinda fun. So I’ll play too.

      What if Bob Diaco was Charlie Weis’ Defensive Coordinator? What if Koyack is as good as Eifert and they run down the seems EVERY SINGLE PLAY? What if Urban Meyer loses two or three in a row to Brady Hoke?

      …and here’s a question that maybe some of you can answer for me….

      Wouldn’t you think that NBC’s national broadcast of Irish games preempts any other regional broadcast? I was in Myrtle Beach last year during the Air Force game and NBC stations didn’t start broadcasting the Irish game until the 2nd quarter because they had an SEC game on.

      Ever try watching the Irish on a wireless connection at a beach rental….PAINFUL

    • waydomer - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Clausen and Tate would have used up their eligibility in 2010, if they didn’t declare after 2009. If your going to play the what if game for guys that couldn’t have possibly played in 2011, then what if Knute Rockne was still alive and coaching and we had George Gipp show up?

  7. ct111 - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    I just lost all respect for nudeman.

    • papadec - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:58 AM

      ct111 – have you not realized, yet, that nude drops a hand grenade into the outhouse just because he can?

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:53 AM



        Actually not true.

        I always mean what I write and write what I mean and get a kick out of the ensuing heat
        (As long as it’s on topic and genuine disagreement, vs stupid personal sh**)

        But I don’t put stuff out there just for that reason.

      • nudeman - Feb 12, 2012 at 10:25 AM

        I appreciate the comment.

        Having said that, I can’t entirely rule out F Bombs going forward. They will be used juduciously and with precision. In fact as we speak, candidates exist. Some possibilities:

        Arik Armstead – I just KNEW going back to December he was messing with ND. And his father blamed “paperwork” as the reason they weren’t already enrolled? Come on MAN.

        Urban Meyer – A couple back to back 4 win years wouldn’t get him off this list.

        Rick Santorum – A ban on contraception as your main platform? Wilma!!!!!

        Coach K – I have little use for college bball, but think this guy is an overly sanctimonious phony. Plus, he looks like a rat.

        Madonna – Chastised the halftime singer MIA for flipping the bird. HUH? Hasn’t Madonna made a living being a foul mouthed slut?

    • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM


      I am truly honored that you had any in the first place

      • ct111 - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        eh i just like how you predicted what was going to happen during recruiting. I had to give your props for that. Keep up giving us information about the program so that we don’t have to pay for it.

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

        Thanks man
        Heading to the gym now
        Might come back with a HUGE scoop

      • papadec - Feb 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM

        nude – ref your LOL comment. I actually enjoy your hand grenades, especially since you turned over a new leaf & cleaned up your act. I probably give you more “Thumbs up than down”. I enjoy giving you somewhat of a hard time – because you seem to be able to take it, like a bunch of guys hangin’ out having some cold beers. I definitely agree with you regarding the stupid personal attacks that show up here – really not appropriate.

  8. norcalirish - Feb 10, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    Just don’t put in turf.

  9. 1historian - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Open letter to every-damned-body:

    Brethren, let us chill.

    • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 10:10 AM


  10. c4evr - Feb 10, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    Cut nude some slack, guys. He calls it like he sees it. I think he has a cogent argument, by the way. I know the rest of you want to ‘rah, rah’ the eam back to excellence with positive vibes, but let’s face it – until his players show up inspired for the big games ( like Holtz’s players did) and when he takes responsibility as a head coach (ie. not throw his players/Weis recruits under the bus in public) and when he learns how to pick a QB, ND will suffer a slow agonizing decline EVEN as many of you here believe the program is getting better. This program is getting better the way a hospice patient feels better with a morphine drip. ND in 2012 – 7W -6L… Time to start hoping the Mayans were right.

    • jrct2450yahoo - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      I couldn’t agree more. The name of the game is coaching and the Irish just don’t have it. Granted Stanford has a one in a million QB, but look at what coaching did for them in recent years. By the way, Nude is a breath of fresh air so give the guy a break.

      • nudeman - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:11 AM

        Most think if you say something remotely critical you hate ND
        I love ND as much or more than most here, including the alums
        I still believe in BK and what he’s doing
        I am cool with the recruit class this year

        But I’m not a kool aid drinker

  11. nudemon - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Bring on the thumbs down

    you guys can go F yourself along with TR and the rest of the world that didnt commit to ND on NSD

    where you at UAW/goat/domer? Drinking to much of Keith’s kool aid?

    anyone actually have anything intellegent to contribute that isn’t tainted by being an ND alum?

  12. jerseyshorendfan1 - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Keith, thanks for the update on Jonas, he’s one member of the team that I enjoyed watching the most. And Nude, its healthy to have a little disagreement so keep it up. I don’t always agree with your pov, but at least you keep the discussion lively (even if you didn’t like my song about Yuri).

  13. dickasman - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:01 PM


    although he’s probably surviving on the $10MM or so he exsto!@#$%^ from the seahawks.

  14. dickasman - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM,0,1345624.story

    big plays in pass plays….consistency….buh bye Rees.

    It’s not only the kid that can make plays, it’s the kid that can also manage a game.” Helloooo REES?SAY WHAT MANG? WTH is this guy another politician? Cmooooooon Chuck, Shoot it straight with us brollerskates? Another Mutt Romney Jr. Getting soooo sick of these Bostonian lobster 2 faced morons.

  15. dickasman - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Basically ND coaching staff is clueless….hypocrating da hell outta themselves….they don’t know what da hell they want themselves no wonder they can’t find it.

    • jrct2450yahoo - Feb 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      I think more emphasis should be placed on the coaching staff and the lack of player development. I don’t know if the number of players drafted by the NFL is an appropriate yardstick but it would be interesting to compare ND with the elite programs. This is especially true over the last 15 to 20 years.

  16. irish4006 - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    The big question in my mind is – why isn’t Gray coming back for another year (if he has eligibility)? Isn’t it easier to get healthy, put up some big numbers and go higher in the draft than say, going undrafted, being signed as a free agent or getting cut because he couldn’t get to 100% as fast as he hoped to?

    I loved seeing him breaking out those big runs and Cierre too was more effective when he was playing. I wish him the best but, from a long term point of view, shouldn’t he be taking the opportunity to get healthy in college environment instead of diving headfirst into the shark infested waters of the NFL?

    • schuey73 - Feb 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      He doesn’t have any eligibility left. He played in games all four year.

  17. rcali - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Kelly is officially on the hot seat no matter what some of you wearing rose colored glasses want to believe. R U telling me 8-5 and a trip to the yogurt bowl is what you think of when you imagine ND football? Well, maybe I’m the one that should be tempering my expectations.

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