Four-star offensive tackle Derwin Gray is not quite to the point that he is ready to sing a Motown classic, but the No. 105-ranked player in the country is looking for respect.
"I don't care about rankings," Gray said. "I care about respect. If people are respecting my game then that is what counts, for me.
"Some guys get wrapped up in being whatever number they get ranked and that isn't me."
That isn't to say that Gray likes being the No. 12 offensive tackle in his class.
"Do I think I played better than that 105, of course I do," he said. "But that isn't my job to say, that is for (Rivals.com) to say. I could be 205 if ya'll say so. So 105 isn't what I want but I guess that is what I earned."
The 6-foot-4, 291-pound lineman has accepted his invitation to the inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta this June 22-24.
"I want to compete and have fun," he said. "The rankings are all hype for fans. If I am 105 or 205 or unranked it doesn't really matter. That isn't going to get me where I want to go.
"My scholarships and my game will get me to the next level."
Currently the Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate player is pushing close to 20 offers and said that his goal of going to the NFL is a next step after getting a good education.
His trip to the invitation-only camp will be his first step in figuring out where he belongs nationally.
"I want to know where I really am," he said. "I want to go against the best. I want to go against Kenny Bigelow and Da'Shawn Hand. I am going to give it all I've got."
Bigelow is the top-ranked defensive end in the Class of 2013. Hand has the potential to be in that spot for the Class of 2014.
While Gray says that every player should want to win every rep that they get, for him improvement and leaving everything on the field is a more realistic statement to make.
"If you go hard and someone beats you then that is great for them," he said. "You give respect and you go hard the next time.
"All of the players there have all worked hard and so it doesn't matter, really, if you are winning every rep so long as you are going hard and giving it your all."
His trip to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge will be all about giving it his best effort.
"It is special to be involved in this event," he said. "To compete against the best is something that not everyone is going to get to do.
"For the people that don't know me they will walk away saying that they respect my game and that I played hard. If that happens, it will be a success."
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Mike Farrell's take
Gray missed most of his junior season so he's making up for lost time by hitting a ton of events and he was one of the best players at the Rivals.com/VTO Sports Virginia camp back in April. He's added about 30 pounds of muscle in the last six months it seems and he is much bigger and more physical than ever. He is very aggressive and competitive. When he keeps his balance and doesn't rock back on his heels, he's hard to beat. But he needs to break that habit. He'll be one of the most prepared players there despite missing so much time as a junior because he went against all that talent in Virginia and is looking for a rematch with Da'Shawn Hand, among others in Atlanta.
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