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August 9, 2013

Gray, Brown and Bergeron on a mission

Jonathan Gray always puts his team first, but he admitted he sets personal goals, too.

And the sophomore admitted he would love to rush for 1,500 yards this season. But if it ends up as 1,500 total yards, he'd be OK with that.

"Rushing, catching passes - 1,500 yards," Gray said. "It doesn't matter how I'm going to get it, but I'm going to get it."

After missing eight games his first two seasons at Texas, Malcolm Brown wants to show everyone what he can do when he's healthy.

Joe Bergeron wanted to make sure no one thought of him as a fullback and lost 20 pounds - from 245 to 225. Giving up oatmeal pies and sodas certainly helped.

And if Jalen Overstreet is challenging Gray for the Wild Formation QB job, so be it, he says.

"It's always fun to see Street in the backfield," Gray smiled. "He's playing quarterback and running back. If Mack says it's going to be a battle, in our eyes in the RB room, we see it as brotherly love. Whoever gets on the field, they have to step up. That's how we see it."

Gray said he's trying to get Applewhite to put in a halfback pass, but that so far his offensive coordinator "is not hearing that."

"I've got a QB arm," Gray laughed.

Gray was known in high school for breaking long runs. But that didn't happen last year. It will this year, he said.

"A lot more runs are going to be broken, and I'm not going to get caught on the 1-yard-line anymore," he said. "That's not going to happen."

Brown has missed 8 games in two seasons at Texas, including five games last year with an ankle injury suffered against Oklahoma State that was slow to heal.

"It was a little frustrating," Brown said. "It was something I had to deal with. I had to keep my faith and talk to my friends and family. The coaches knew I was having a tough time with the lack of progress last year, and they all helped me through it."

Does he feel cursed after injuries in back-to-back seasons?

"It was out of my control," Brown said. "There was nothing I could do about it. So I just had to get through it."

Brown, who weighs 220 pounds, doesn't think the coaches will look to have one featured back getting 20 carries per game.

"I think our coaches believe in the rotation, and a lot of the great teams have more than one back," Brown said. "Right now, our rotation is working. I like it."

Bergeron said he started losing weight after feeling winded in spring football in the new, up-tempo offense at 245 pounds.

"After the spring, it was hard to have all of that weight and be in an up-tempo offense,"
Bergeron said. "It got me. It was kind of against my will (to lose the weight)," Bergeron said.

"I had to give up oatmeal pies. I had to give up sodas, fried foods and change everything. But it's for the better. And if it's for the better of my team, I'd gladly give up that stuff any day."

Bergeron said he has kept his strength at 225 pounds and has increased his speed.

"I feel more confident in my speed, so I'm interested to see how it translates to the field," Bergeron said.

Bergeron said his mother, Cynthia, has changed her diet, too, so that when he goes home, she's not preparing fried foods but instead things like baked tilapia and salmon.

"It's not bad," Bergeron said, unconvincingly. "It takes some getting used to, especially when you're used to eating Spaghettios, which I love."

Bergeron said he's always heard people trying to peg him as a fullback or as a short-yardage and goal-line back because he's a big, strong back.

"Honestly, that's just more fuel," Bergeron said. "I've been told I'd never see the backfield when I got to college. But that's because they didn't know what I could do. Now that I have some film behind me, and they know I can produce, I honestly don't pay attention to people who say I'll play fullback.

"We all have fullback roles, but we are all tailbacks."

Gray, Brown and Bergeron all caught hundreds of tennis balls out of a machine to work on their reception skills, because the backs are likely to catch more passes this season.

"We're not really allowed to work out with footballs with the (strength) coaches, so we caught a lot of tennis balls," Bergeron said. "We're working on the little things to improve this offense."

Bergeron said he doesn't stress about splitting carries with Gray and Brown.

"I'm not worried about it," Bergeron said. "When we get the ball, we have our chance to shine.

"I'm going to help the other guys shine, and they are going to help me. And with the up-tempo offense and all the formations we're going to use with two backs on the field, there will be opportunity."

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