03-07 dra gray

Pictured, Ardadrian Gray and head coach Jarrick Farmer confer during a Sept. 6 game against Tom Bean. Gray has accepted an offer to play football at Friends University.

When Clarksville Tiger Ardadrian Gray began playing football as a young child, it was akin to love at first sight. Now, he will continue to play the sport he loves at the next level, after recently signing to play for Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.

Gray began playing football competitively in middle school, and around the same time he also picked up basketball. It quickly became apparent to him, though, that football was the game that truly held his heart.

“I was always an athletic kid and played a bunch of sports growing up, but football was the one that stuck with me,” Gray said. “I liked how physical it was. The other sports didn’t have that.”

His love for the physical aspect of the game has always been there, Gray said, and it’s why he prefers the grueling nature of defense over offense.

“The first thing that jumps out at you is just how much he loves the game,” Clarksville head coach Jarrick Farmer added. “He steps on the field and it’s almost like he has an alter ego, for lack of a better term. He’s incredibly respectful and humble off the field, but will do just about anything you ask of him on the field.”

On the field at linebacker, Gray possesses a dominating combination of speed and strength, making him a matchup nightmare for opposing offenses.

His dominance was apparent during his senior campaign, when he established himself as one of the top defensive players in both his district and the entire Red River Valley.

Gray racked up 82 tackles as a senior, putting him among the very best in the RRV.

But just as valuable, Farmer said, are his intangible qualities which make him an asset off the gridiron too.

“Both verbally and nonverbally, he’s a leader,” Farmer said. “He leads by example and he also is someone that everyone in the locker room looks to. He’s the type of player that every coach loves to have on his team.”

Friends University wasn’t the only school interested in adding Gray to their roster, he said. When weighing his options, though, the school was the clear choice for him.

“I went up there and talked to the coaches, and I could tell that that’s where I was going to be more comfortable,” Gray said. “They made me feel like I’d be more a part of the team — a family-based type of thing.”

Looking back on his time spent with the Clarksville Tigers, Gray said he’s going to miss the bonds formed with his teammates and coaches. But looking to the future, he’s more than excited for what’s still in store.

“I’m looking forward to how exciting it’ll be,” Gray said. “I know it’s not going to be easy and nothing’s going to be handed to me.”

Tommy Culkin is sports editor for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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