Georgia Tech freshman safety A.J. Gray a quick study, in line to play

Georgia Tech safety A.J. Gray arrived on campus this summer with perhaps the most impressive credentials of any member of his signing class. He was named the state of Georgia’s player of the year by multiple organizations, including the AJC, was a Parade All-American and led Washington County to back-to-back appearances in the Class 3A state finals.

Time will tell if he can live up to the billing, but thus far he hasn’t disappointed coaches and teammates.

“He learns pretty quick for a freshman,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Tuesday. “He’s a good tackler. That’s what I like most about him.”

While emphasizing that he has a lot to learn, Roof said he has been pleased with Gray’s progress and his conscientious manner. Strong safety Demond Smith has noticed that quality, as well. He said he loves that Gray asks questions frequently.

“He’s just blunt about it,” Smith said. “’Hey, what do I have (as an assignment) right here?’ He asks questions and I like that. He’ll be a great player in the future.”

Gray is expected to play on special teams and Roof said that he thinks Gray can get on the field at safety in a backup role. He has been taking practice repetitions with the second- and third-string defenses at safety, competing with Shaun Kagawa, Corey Griffin and John Marvin. Roof trains safeties at both the strong and free positions, but he may be better suited for the free safety spot manned by Jamal Golden.

“He works at it, and I’m sure he’ll continue to make strides,” Roof said.

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