Natural talent. Untapped potential.
College coaches look for these traits when bringing in recruits who could
have an impact in their program. Paired together, these two attributes can sometimes lead not just to success and a smooth transition to collegiate life, but also an incredible surpassing of any and all expectations.
Houston Wheatley High School senior Robert Gregory believes he's got both. And it's helped drive his recruiting process, which has included interest from Oregon, Texas Christian University, Arizona State University, Texas A&M and Alabama.
Gregory is the No. 26 ranked athlete on MileSplit's list of the top 50 Class of 2020 recruits.
But with National Signing Day approaching quickly, the sprinter has decided he won't be putting pen to paper on Nov. 13 -- the first day track and field and cross country athletes can sign-- and instead he'll announce his commitment in December and sign in January, alongside friends and teammates.
Track, it seems, has always been a slow burn for the Texan.
begin his athletic career on the track, but on the football field, at the age of
seven. Four years later, he started running. But after two
years training with the Greater Houston Track Club, he completely turned his attention to football.
sprinter used his natural speed to his favor on the gridiron. "On
the field you could tell I ran track," he said. "I was way faster than a lot of people in
to the track during his freshman year at Houston Wheatley and continued to play
wide receiver and cornerback in football. But an original plan to pursue a football scholarship changed after his performance last spring on the track.
After a few years in the 400m, he added the 200m for the
first time last season. And there was a reason for it.
"I started off my
high school career never lifting any weights," Gregory said. "So I finally
started to lift a little bit a weights, not a lot just a little bit. My coach
also had me doing sprint workouts last year... This year he said I could run the
200m. So, he had me doing a lot of sprints and 300s and 350s."
serious improvements across the two events. In 2018, he had a sixth-place finish
in the 400m at the UIL Track and Field Championship with a time of 49.95 seconds. But as his focused changed to the 200m in 2019, Gregory only ran the 400m four times. In June, he ran a two-second PR of 47.46.
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200m journey with a 22.10 at the Houston Relays, the senior dropped over a second in a
span of two months. He ran 20.91 to win his regional meet and it finished as a US No. 23 mark. Following his first sub-21 performance, Gregory won his first
UIL Track and Field 4A Championship in the event.
Then came interest from a wide range of schools.
my dream school," he said. "They came from out of nowhere and I was happy.
Arizona State, he [Coach Javonie Small] was talking to me and I started liking what he
was talking about. Alabama, he [Coach Mark'Quis Frazier] was cool, they were cool. I liked
what they was talking about as well. Texas A&M and TCU are dream schools,
part of the recruiting process for the sprinter is trying to figure out where
he fits in the program, whether that's as a 200m or 400m runner.
The Sun Devils
aren't only going after Gregory.
They're recruiting one of the biggest names in the Class of 2020: Justin
They're veering from tradition. For a program that historically put on a 200m or 400m focus, it makes you wonder what's making
Arizona State a top contender?
"I like that
they're underrated," he said. "I like being underrated because you'll come out
of nowhere and no one expects you to do anything, especially anything big."
Gregory took his first visit to Oregon two weeks ago.
football team win against Colorado was honestly my favorite part," he said. "I got to see where they work out, their weight room and they took us
into the stadium their building even though it's not finished yet. We were
inside [Hayward Field] and even though the track isn't finished, they explained
to us where everything is going to be."
chance to see the early-construction of Hayward Field is a great recruiting tactic on Oregon's behalf, too. However, the
Ducks have more to offer than major facilities.
"They have a
lot of good history on the track and education wise, their business management
major is very high and that's what I want to study," he said.
Gregory will take his second official to TCU. The Horned Frogs have been recruiting international talent lately.
recent success in the 400m with South African World Championship qualifier Derrick Mokaleng, who set the indoor (45.68) and outdoor 400m (45.02)
record last season with second-team All-American finishes at both NCAA
The men's program's incoming
freshman class includes Zimbabwe U20 champion Simbarashe Maketa, who placed
second in the 200m at the 2018 African Games with a PR of 20.95.