ATHENS — Logan Gray, as a speech communications major, could analyze the answer he gave when asked if his move to receiver felt permanent.
“It’s permanent — as far as I know,” he said.
Then the Georgia football player sounded like a math major when he was asked a follow-up: On a scale of 1 (quarterback) to 10 (receiver), how did he feel?
“Eight-point-two-three,” he said, smiling.
Then he laughed.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he added.
A lot remains in limbo for the junior from Missouri. He’s listed as a quarterback-receiver in the Georgia media guide, which also has him as the backup quarterback. But he practices with receivers and participates in the receiver meetings.
If something happens to anointed starter Aaron Murray, a redshirt freshman, Gray could get the call. After all, he remains the only player on the Georgia roster who has ever thrown a pass in a real college game.
“What I’ve been told, and what I think is going on, is I’m working full-time receiver,” Gray said. “(If) something happens to Aaron or something else happens, we’ll take things from there.”
In the meantime, Gray stands a decent chance of breaking into the receiver rotation, where he may have an advantage as a former quarterback.
Gray’s athletic skills are obvious. He returned six punts as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and one last year. In high school, he was a star basketball player.
But even then his calling was as a quarterback. He was an Elite 11 prospect and good enough that Clemson, which already had the top-rated quarterback (Willy Korn) in the 2007 class, still showed interest in Gray.
Gray’s performance last year, however, was evidently not enough to make Georgia coaches feel he should compete with Murray this preseason.
The transition to receiver was helped by the three seasons he spent learning quarterback. He knows all the receiver routes, as well as the progression-checks that the quarterback will make on each play. In other words, he has better insight than other receivers on how likely he is to get a pass on each play.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Gray still has a bit of a learning curve on how to run routes. Gray has been playing at both the slot and outside spots, but Bobo added that he thinks Gray will play a “pivotal” role this year.
After Monday’s first practice, Gray earned praise from none other than star receiver A.J. Green.
“He’s smooth,” Green said. “(On Monday) he was running little routes, (and) I was like, ‘Golly, Logan’s gonna help us this year.’ ”
Aron White, who was Gray’s football and basketball teammate at their Missouri high school, sees it as a positive.
“It’s gonna be good for him at the end of the day,” White said. “If he’s not gonna be on the field at quarterback, he needs to be on the field somewhere. He’s a guy who’s too athletic to go four years here and not see the field at all.”
Still, there’s that sliver of doubt — 1.77 on a scale of 10 — as to Gray’s permanent role. How long, he was asked, would he continue to play receiver before it would get harder for him to shift back to quarterback?
Gray took a deep breath before answering.
“Well, I mean, I don’t think I’d ever forget how to throw a football,” he said. “Honestly, taking all these reps at receiver, I don’t think is going to ever ... Hmm, lemme think about how I wanna word this.”
He paused another moment, then continued.
“Playing receiver, I’m still gonna be fresh mentally at quarterback, I think, because it’s the same stuff,” he said. “You know what I mean? I feel like if I were playing defense, or I was totally not around the offense anymore, it might have a greater effect. I think it should be fine if something ultimately did happen.”