MarQueis Gray came into the University of Minnesota with tremendous potential. Hopes for him to become an elite quarterback always lingers. It looks like he’ll leave the U of M with that hope just dangling in wind unfulfilled. Jerry Kill announced today that freshman QB Philip Nelson is the Gophers quarterback not only of the future, but now.
Injuries to Gray’s knee and ankle limited his time and effectiveness in the last three games. An injury to backup Max Shoretell’s shoulder forced the coaching staff to remove the redshirt tag from in front of Philip Nelson’s name and throw him to the wolves against Wisconsin last Saturday. With five regular season games remaining and the Gophers in need of two more wins to become bowl eligible, Nelson will remain the Gophers QB for the rest of the year.
“We made the commitment to pull the redshirt off Philip,” Kill said. “When you do that, you’re going to play the youngster. We may play him and Max. I don’t know, with our situation health-wise with MarQueis, when he’ll be able to take some snaps. Right now, we just need to worry about keeping somebody healthy.”
“I really feel bad for [MarQueis], to be honest with you, because he’s such a great talent,” Kill said of Gray. “And he’s a tough kid. A lot of kids wouldn’t play through what he’s trying to play through. I’m more concerned about him as a person and also his future. We talk all the time, and he understands where he’s at. The most important thing is get him healthy.”
Gray first found himself waiting for playing time behind Adam Weber under the direction of head coach Tim Brewster. Gray saw limited playing time until the university sent Brewster packing and told him not to let the door hit him on the way out. At that same time, Weber was graduating, paving the way for Gray to become the starting QB. Since then, Gray has struggled with accuracy and frequently left the pocket too soon. He’s also found it difficult to remain healthy, which all came to a head this season with his knee and ankle problems.
Most Gophers fans are ready to see what Nelson can offer the team, but it’s not without a twinge of sadness for anyone that has a sense of compassion. With his speed, strength and arm, Gray appeared to have the potential to be poor man’s Robert Griffin III. Unfortunately, he came nowhere close to meeting that potential. TC Huddle is left wondering what might have been in a different timeline. Gray never seemed to reach his potential and now we’ll never know how high that potential would have reached. Like coach Kill said, we feel bad for him.
The tumultuous Gray era is over. Next year we’ll be watching Shoretell and Nelson battle it out for the starting job. Next week, we’ll be watching Phillip Nelson try to carry the Gophers to their 5th victory at home against Purdue. So long MarQueis Gray Era. A nagging feeling leaves us wondering what might have been.