Over the course of the winter, hidden deep underneath the frozen tundra of the upper Midwest was a quarterback by the name of Marqueis Gray. Well, the tundra has thawed. Gray is the best kept secret in the Big Ten. Maybe, just maybe, he is the best kept secret in all of college football.
If you are looking for the next Boo Griffin, look no further. Similar to how Baylor's Robert "Boo" Griffin III broke out onto the scene a couple of years ago for an upstart Bears squad, Gray hopes to do the same and help reverse the misfortunes that have plagued the Minnesota Golden Gophers for some time now.
Gray is drawing comparisons to Nebraska's Taylor Martinez as well.
Regardless, with Terrelle Pryor now out of college football, Gray has the most athleticism of any quarterback in the Big Ten. His combination of strength and speed is off the charts while his style of play in the pocket fits perfectly with the offense he will run in Minnesota.
Gray will undoubtedly move the chains with his legs but the question looming over everybody's head is how well will he do passing the ball?
In this post-spring segment of the college football offseason, Gray has received mixed reviews in regard to his passing abilities. That is expected for a raw and inexperienced quarterback. Let us also not forget that he isn't working with the same core of wide receivers that some of his counterparts will be working with either.
Having wide receiver Da'Jon McKnight to throw the ball to won't hurt though.
Still, expecting a bumpy road from the get-go, Gray could turn the wide-open Big Ten upside down. Minnesota will not vie for the league's first championship game, but the Golden Gophers will turn some heads.
Gray is a wide receiver turned quarterback. Last year, he had seven starts at wideout, helping people forget that in 2008, he was one of the top dual threat passers coming out of the prep arena.
Well, he will be back behind center. 2011 will be his junior year and things get hairy right out of the gate. Gray will have his wits and skills tested at Southern Cal in the season opener.
Last year's 3-9 record for the Golden Gophers was atrocious. An expected yet mainstream-wise, surprising season from Gray could help the Gophers return to a bowl game after missing one last season, for the first time since the 2007 season.
Gray is the x-factor in whether or not the Gophers will get to a bowl game, but what Minnesota fans want more is to win a bowl game. That is something the Golden Gophers have not done since the 2004 Music City Bowl.
I suggest that one player can't win every game for a team, especially one that appears to be as ill-equipped as Minnesota. Yet, a player as talented as Marqueis Gray can help those around him play better, leaving the program in a better position to snag more victories than expected.