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The School Newspaper of Texas High School

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Through the years

Senior athlete reflects on his football journey
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Senior+TJ+Gray+celebrates+a+touchdown+in+a+district+game+against+Nacogdoches+Friday%2C+Oct.+20%2C+2023.+The+Tigers+ended+their+season+with+an+overall+record+of+11-2.
Anna Haley
Senior TJ Gray celebrates a touchdown in a district game against Nacogdoches Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. The Tigers ended their season with an overall record of 11-2.

With stadium lights shining down and screaming fans packing out Pirate Stadium, senior receiver TJ Gray gets set at the line of scrimmage for another play as a Texas High Tiger.

This play looked different, though. Gray played in his last game as a Tiger in round three of the UIL State Playoffs, taking his final loss to the Lucas Lovejoy Leopards.

“To be honest, overall I feel like we came out and had a successful season,” Gray said. “I definitely feel like I could have done more, in terms of yardage and touchdowns, but I’m satisfied with how it all played out. I’m just glad that I got to be a part of this team, and that I got to play my senior season with my brothers.”

TJ will now go on to graduate high school early and play collegiate football in the spring. This accomplishment didn’t come overnight, though. It took years of hard work, practice and dedication to get him to where he is today. 

“I started playing football sometime around the fifth grade,” Gray said. “It was one of the local peewee leagues. I started there and just never looked back.”

Football is a family sport for Gray, and memories of the game formed early on, before the bright lights of Tiger Stadium. 

“My favorite memories from football, honestly, probably come from when I was younger,” Gray said. “It’s probably just being little and playing outside in the front yard. Me and my brothers would just go out there and play football for hours.”

Though he couldn’t stay little and play in the front yard forever, Gray found a new place to grow and make memories in the football program at Texas High. The Tiger program helped to prepare Gray to go off and play college football.

“My favorite part about Texas High football, man, is just the culture,” Gray said. “They treat us like college athletes, so when we go off, we aren’t surprised. We know what to expect.”

Not only did the program grow him in the mental aspect of football, but it prepared him physically as well.

“I think athletically and physically, they definitely got me ready to go to the next level,” Gray said. “The way we hit the weight room and the way we practice. It got me ready to be a college student-athlete. I feel well prepared to go perform.”

Gray’s end goal was always college football, and he started his recruitment process early.

“My recruitment process started really early, I think in the eighth grade,” Gray said. “I started getting a few offers when I moved into Texas High. In September of my junior year, it all started booming.”

With such a successful recruitment process comes a great dilemma: where am I going to go? Gray earned the opportunity to start his collegiate career early, and he took it. 

“I think the main reason I chose to graduate early was just so I could pursue my dreams in football,” Gray said. “I wanted to get a head start on everyone and start building my body. I wanted to be more prepared than everyone else.”

Gray initially committed to the University of Tulsa; however, he ultimately decided to go to Louisiana Tech University. 

By January, Gray will be a collegiate athlete at LA Tech who left a big impact on the Texas High football program.

TJ was our most productive receiver and we had a great time coaching him,” Head Coach Gerry Stanford said. “It took a lot of patience and hard work [to get him where he is now]. He loves football and worked very hard at improving all aspects of being a great team player and a great athlete.”

 

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About the Contributors
Kailyn Williams
Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor
Kailyn Williams is a third-year senior member of the newspaper staff and Sports Editor. She is an overachieving perfectionist, who doesn’t like failing. She is a member of the varsity volleyball and softball team and likes to maintain straight A’s.
Anna Haley
Anna Haley, Photo Editor
Anna Haley is a second-year staff writer for Tiger Times as well as the Newspaper and Yearbook Photo Editor. She loves to hunt, fish, take photos and make graphics. If she isn’t doing any of those, she is in her backyard with her dog. She is one of the Top 10 Photographers in Texas and hopes to be a recurring member. Anna is excited about the new year as Photo editor!

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