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Florida Football

Meet Torrian Gray: The Coach the Players Picked

February 7, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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Torrian Gray stepped to the podium with a smile and a teasing grin as he introduced himself.

“Torrian Gray, cornerbacks coach, back for the second time here. So open it up."

As National Signing Day came to a close on Wednesday and head coach Dan Mullen had finished wrapping up the big recruiting day, Gray arrived to re-introduce himself.

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After spending the 2016 season in Gainesville coaching the dynamic duo of Quincy Wilson and Jalen “Teez” Tabor, Gray spent two seasons coaching the same position in the NFL. But then there was a shift in the staff back in Florida and the wheels kept turning so fast that the train barreling towards NSD never had time to step.

Dan Mullen has been in coaching for a long time—he’s closing in on three decades in the profession—but he admits he’s never experienced anything like the Torrian Gray situation.

When former Gators corner coach Charlton Warren left for the same job at rival Georgia just two and a half weeks before the final signing day for the 2019 class, there was no time for Mullen to worry about finding someone to replace him…his players wouldn’t allow him any time to wonder.

“I've never been in a situation where we lose a coach and basically every player on the team starts texting me, is there any way we can go hire this guy,” Mullen told reporters of the quick change.

“I had never met Torrian and, but everyone of our players was like, but we have to get him, we have to get him. And I'm like, okay, well, he's currently the secondary coach of the Washington Redskins, so that sounds like a really good idea, but you know he was here and he went to the Washington Redskins.”

But Mullen was about to learn his players were already ahead of him because up in the D.C. area, Gray was getting texts as well.

“It was interesting because I'm sitting —whatever I was doing on a Saturday night, I don't remember—and I get a text from Jeawon Taylor 'Coach, would you come back?' OK, let me look on Twitter, why would he ask me that? So ok, I see Coach Warren had left. Then Marco [Wilson] gives me a call, CJ [Henderson] gives me a call; 'I would take it again, yeah I would be interested, I would love to come back. That's home. If you want to, bring it up to your coach.’ It was interesting getting that process going in that manner."

That process consisted primarily of the players taking responsibility for their own team, knowing who and what they wanted and going after it, something Mullen is pleased to see.

“I love the thought process behind that from our players.”

Trusting the players on his team and the word of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham—who coached defense when Gray played at Virginia Tech from 1992-95—Mullen asked Gray to come into the office.

“I came in Sunday night, got in around midnight and talked to Coach Mullen on Monday morning. Offered the job and it was just kind of spinning and going from there."

Right away Gray noticed a change in the program in just two short years.

“I know when I went down to watch the guys work in the weight room I was really impressed with just their intensity and their effort and those type of things like that. I was like, 'Wow, this is pretty neat to be able to see those guys work down there.'"

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Related: Florida in Top Four for 2020 four-star cornerback 

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There was also an introduction to a loaded unit. After coaching a unit in the past that included Wilson, Tabor, Duke Dawson and Marcus Maye, Gray says he can’t help but get excited about the unit he inherits now.

“It was a very talented group [in 2016]. And these guys are a little less experienced from the experience standpoint, but from a talent standpoint you’re barking up the right tree. I’m excited about that.

“You’ve got Marco Wilson, C.J. Henderson, those guys are obviously the bell cow; familiar with those guys before I left. And to see the guys we just got, that give us some depth, the freshmen guys, Chris Steele, Jaydon Hill, [Chester] Kimbrough. [Kaiir Elam], Trey Dean. It’s a very talented, talented group. I’m extremely excited to be able to work with these guys.”

 
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