Cyrus Gray entered 2010 as the second part of a very strong backfield, the less-featured tandem partner with Christine Michael. He'll enter 2011 as the Big 12's top running back and the more publicized member of that same duo.
Many people credited quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the Aggies' late season surge, but the biggest factor might have been that Gray quickly became one of the country's top runners, ending the season with seven straight games of 100-plus yards. Over those final seven games, all of which he started, he averaged 134 yards per contest, and he did it largely against excellent competition and teams like Oklahoma, Nebraska and LSU. Multiplied over a 12-game season, that's 1,608 yards. As it was, he topped the 1,000-yard mark despite only starting half the season.
But while the level of Gray's impact might have changed. he's always been an all-purpose threat. As a freshman, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and set a Texas A&M record for kickoff return yards. He rushed for 752 yards and had three 100-yard games as a sophomore and scored four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) in the Texas Tech game.
Overall, he's the school record holder in game, season and career kickoff return yardage. But it's what he can do in the backfield that makes him one of the Big 12's top players. He has the speed and acceleration to take any play to the house, the toughness to hold up for more than 20 carries per game and the soft hands to be a factor in the passing game.
In short, he's one of the deadliest and most versatile weapons in the league, and certainly one of the conference's top 10 players entering the 2011 season.
2010 Stats: 200 carries for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing, 34 catches for 251 yards and one touchdown receiving