Thomas Grayson committed to Nebraska five weeks ago and his stock has increased. The 3-star running back may be the No. 73 running back in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, but his highlight tape suggests there is more potential than that ranking suggests.
Below is Grayson’s highlight film from his junior season, as well as my thoughts about what I see from Grayson, a 6-foot, 190-pound talent from Tulsa, Okla.
Thomas Grayson junior season highlights
What stood out
It becomes immediately apparent why running backs coach Ryan Held and coach Scott Frost fell in love with Grayson, quickly extending an offer after an evaluation. He is the fastest guy on the field, no questions asked.
The first play of every prospect’s tape usually is their best play, and that’s no different with Grayson. The brutal stiff-arm, defenders whiffing — the only prayer is to tug at his jersey.
On the next couple of runs, you can see opposing defenders give up around the 15-yard line. The gap between the defenders and Grayson only increases as he closes in on the end zone. He ends his touchdown runs like a track star crossing the finish line.
Once Grayson gets to the edge and into the second level, he’s no match for high school defenders. That obviously won’t be the case at the next level, but it’s impressive to watch. Safeties who are supposed to be last line of defense can hardly get a hand on him. They’re helpless.
There’s a clip of Grayson stiff-arming Oklahoma commit Ron Tatum, a 4-star defensive end in the 2018 class, in the backfield. The play didn’t go for much, but it’s another example of Grayson’s strength.
Combined with his elite speed, Grayson possesses a deadly combination.
What I like
Grayson has great vision. The hole develops, Grayson recognizes it and he’s gone like a cloud of dust. He shows good patience and his acceleration is next-level. Those things might be simple to say when analyzing what’s expected from a running back. However, doing the basics correctly can make a difference.
I also like how Grayson can run out of the shotgun, which is something that’s going to be important in Frost’s offense. Grayson can run out of basically any formation, another part of his game that should translate well when he gets to Nebraska.
Grayson isn’t the most physical tailback in the world — he doesn’t need to be with his speed — but he can absorb contact. That’s a credit to his balance. Grayson showed some fortitude in the red zone and near the goal line while fighting for valuable yards. The toughness and presence in the power game gives him a niche — taking a direct snap near the goal line, for example. I also saw that physicality in the few pass-protection and blocking clips on the reel.
Grayson also made a pair of special teams tackles, demonstrating closing speed and general football awareness.
He looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield, even though the routes are relatively basic flats in space. Being a factor in the passing game is another element of Grayson’s game that will be refined when he gets to Lincoln.
What needs work
Could Grayson have made an extra guy here or there miss? Sure.
He won’t be able to loop around the line of scrimmage, as he did on several long runs, in college. He will have to commit to lanes and do his best with what the line gives him.
Grayson never fumbled on his tape, but you’d like to see him run with the ball higher and tighter. Again, these are aspects of the game that come with maturity and Held will be sure to coach him up.