Arizona Western Junior College defensive end Randy Gregory is a loyal individual, and right now that loyalty resides in a commitment to Purdue.
But a phone call from Texas' coaches to AWJC head coach Tom Minnick, followed by conversations Gregory had with Longhorns coach Oscar Giles and Manny Diaz on July 29 could challenge his faithfulness to the Boilermakers.
“It was a big surprise [being contacted by Texas],” Gregory said. “My head coach over here had texted me early in the morning and said that Coach Giles had seen my spring film and wanted to talk to me so I called him and we talked for about half an hour. We had a really good conversation.”
The two started the conversation off by talking about academics and the fact that the Longhorns like high character kids on their roster.
“They really like high-character guys and said based on what he’s heard that I am a pretty high-character guy and that’s what they like,” Gregory said. “He has had a chance to see me on film and likes my pass rushing technique. But he wants to build a relationship before they offer.”
Then about 20 minutes after that Coach Diaz messaged Gregory on Facebook and the two struck up a conversation that ran the gamut from academics to the state of Texas’ defensive ends after 2012.
“Coach Diaz said that they had Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat that could go into the draft,” Gregory said. “He said they would be skinny at the position after this year and are looking for one or two guys to come in and make an impact. I don’t know any of the guys that are underclassmen and he thought I could come in and help out after this season.”
All of this came one day after the Longhorns learned that defensive end Daeshon Hall decided to decommit; he committed to Washington the following day.
But why Gregory? For starters, he recorded 82 tackles, including 21 for loss and nine sacks while helping AWJC to the junior college national championship game last season as a true freshman.
“My dad always said that a football player not only creates a good basketball player but a good basketball player makes a good football player,” he said. “I have always been pretty athletic and playing basketball really helped me footwork. So I think I am real athletic and have room to grow. I could probably put on thirty more pounds and it wouldn’t phase me. Coach Giles said he thought I was one of the best DE’s in the JUCO ranks.”
Gregory, who stands 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds (up 20 pounds this spring), was honored that the Longhorns would reach out to him. He has paid attention to Texas his entire life.
“I’ve always watched them,” he said. “They play in a big conference and year in, year out are a powerhouse. They have a great school, great campus and are in a great town in Austin. I’ve never been to campus but from what I’ve seen on TV it is really nice.”
Gregory hopes to visit the campus himself during an official visit in the fall.
“They definitely want me to come on campus and check out the town, the program and the coaching staff,” he said.
He’d have to really be wowed by the Longhorns' staff and the campus in general to get him away from Purdue. He actually committed to the Boilermakers out of Hamilton Southeastern in Fishers, Ind., but had to go the juco route because he didn’t qualify academically.
“It’s pretty strong,” Gregory said of his commitment to Purdue. “I feel like they are pretty solid and are the right school for me. But I am still looking around to see if there are any other schools out there that catch my eye.”
He admits the likelihood of Texas being one of those schools is very high.
“It would definitely change my mind if they offered,” Gregory said. “I would really consider it. Once I get out to campus and build a good relationship with them then I could consider it then. I am a pretty loyal guy so if I can form a good relationship with the coaches and they offer that could really sway my decision.”
Gregory currently offers from Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Louisville, Arkansas, Utah and Oregon State. His coaches have told him that around 35 schools have stopped by this spring to watch him in action, but most were deterred by his commitment to Purdue.