Tony Gray “New Mexico State has been waiting for two years to get their hands on me. They’ve got some big plans for my future.”

Tony Gray has had a lot of impact on the sport of football. Unfortunately for the opponents of the Corsairs, that impact has often been painfully registered on their quarterbacks and running backs. “I’m a linebacker, so I knock people down,” says Tony with a laugh in explaining the “delicate” art of defensive football players. “I got a scholarship to play in a school in Tennessee out of high school. But I had a friend who told me I should really come out here to play,” says the Cincinnati native. “So I talked with Coach Taylor and I got a really positive feeling about SMC.” The result is that Tony made All-State Conference two years running. And he’s now on his way to New Mexico and—hopefully—the National Football League. And “football genes” do seem to run in his family.

“My folks back in Cincinnati are really proud of me,” says Tony. “And my cousin—Carlton Gray from UCLA. They’re having a big party for him back home this weekend to see which round of the NFL draft he’s picked in.” But Tony says that his glorious moments on the field are not the only way he’d like to be remembered.

“Not many people end up going to school back home,” he says. “And if they do go, they drop out quick. And with football, even if you make it to the NFL, you can’t expect to be there your whole life forever.” And to illustrate his point, Tony remembers conversations he’s had with his mother. “She really wants me to stay in school and get that degree,” he says. “And that’s why—even if people in sports ask me to get out of school early—I’m staying in until I graduate.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.