EA football star uses special tattoos to fuel his football journey to Nicholls State commitment

East Ascension High School senior Kelvin “KJ” Gray recently committed to continue his career as a student-athlete at Nicholls State.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2023 at 4:26 PM CDT
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GONZALES, L.A. (WAFB) - The program that produced LSU great Glenn Dorsey is sending another player to the division one ranks of college football. East Ascension High School senior Kelvin “KJ” Gray recently committed to continue his career as a student-athlete at Nicholls State. The Colonels are getting an offensive lineman with a reputation for his size.

“He’s massive, he takes up a lot of space, he moves people,” said Darnell Lee, the East Ascension head coach.

Gray couples his 420 lb. bench and 720 lb. squat with an attitude built to dominate in the trenches.

“I can be nasty when it comes to offense. If I feel like I’m better than you, you’re going to know I’m better than you,” said Gray.

It’s clear the senior walks around beaming with bravado but behind that terrorizing figure and powerful punch is a face that wears vulnerability. Gray has lived through some difficult times over the past eight years. It started in 2015 when one of his grandpa’s passed away, then the other just three years later. Then, in 2021 tragedy struck.

“It’s just something you don’t get over,” Gray said.

One of Gray’s uncles died unexpectedly. Gray still feels the pain of that tragic occurrence.

“That one hurt real bad because it was devastating,” Gray said.

Gray honors the legacy of his fallen family members with a tattoo he had designed for his left shoulder.

KJ Gray

It depicts three figures representing his two grandparents and his uncle on the stairway of Heaven.

KJ Gray

Below that piece is another which gives Gray extra inspiration and words of encouragement which he relied heavily upon during the recruiting process.

KJ Gray

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear. I’m faithful in God, I’m faithful that in what I can do and what he sent me to do than nothing else should matter but that”

Gray was discouraged during the recruitment process because he wasn’t getting the interest he thought he deserved and only a few schools had their eyeballs on him. Coach Lee has seen this process play out for years so he knew exactly what message to deliver to his veteran lineman.

“He also told me, yanno, you’re not gonna get the same attention. That just is how it is but the attention you do get you gotta make the most of it,” Gray said.

Gray did get some attention from a school not too far away. Nicholls State located Gray on its radar and sent a representative to East Ascension to watch the two-way player perform in practice. That’s the opportunity Gray was craving and when the time came to show out, he was ready.

“I don’t really get nervous, I use it as motivation. So when they come out I know, oh yeah I better be on my A-game, don’t mess up this is an opportunity and every opportunity is valuable,” Gray said.

Not long after, Gray finally got that offer he was hoping for and it was everything he hoped it would be.

“Then when Nicholls offered me, I was like okay I can work with this, I’m interested in this, yanno D1, I can play at a high level, high level I want to play at,” Gray said.

That’s the level Gray will play at next fall upon graduating from East Ascension High School. The Colonels play in the Southland Conference of the division one FCS ranks. Gray’s first game could be over in New Orleans in 2024. Nicholls State opens up next season on the road against Tulane.

Follow along the rest of Gray’s prep career and see East Ascension highlights on Sportsline Friday Night’s all season long.

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