Howard Payne University quarterback Gage McClanahan set a school record for completions last week, and a bulk of those catches made for career day for junior transfer receiver DunTayviun Gross.
McClanahan may of turned a few heads with his record breaking day, but HPU fans have even more to look forward to next season knowing Gross could again be his primary target in 2019 following Saturday’s performance with Gross tallying 13 reception for 151 yards and a touchdown.
“We watched film all week and what they did on certain plays,” Gross said. “We knew what plays to run and what we could get on certain plays. We stuck to it and, as you can see by the stats, we were able to spread the ball around and help everybody out.”
Gross transferred to HPU following a successful junior college career at Cisco College and hasn’t seemed to lose his form going up to NCAA Division III. Although Saturday was only his second 100-yard game this season, the first against McMurry with a touchdown and 103 yards on five receptions, he has been one of McClanahan’s primary targets since transferring this fall. With many former Division I players using Cisco as a springboard back to DI, Gross said JUCO football requires more physicality. When lining up, the 5-9 receiver Gross said his constant drive and physical nature is something opposing cornerbacks do not expect.
“I just constantly want to put in work. Every team we play, they always say ‘Watch one, watch one,’ when I’m not even getting the ball,” Gross said. “It’s not my fault. The coaches brought me here because I can make people miss and when I get into space I’m a hard guy to tackle. I just make plays and do whatever I can to help the offense out.”
This season Gross has 55 receptions for 541 yards and four touchdowns with half of those TDs coming off a seven-catch, 78-yard performance in a losing effort to Belhaven. This offseason Gross plans to balance improving his speed and strength without having diminishing returns for either and hopes he can contribute to turning the program around in 2019 both as a player and a leader.
“This year was really just testing the water to see how everything goes for next year. Team-wise, if you look at our records you see Ls on there, but you see a few games where we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter,” Gross said. “The coaches said there wasn’t any of that. It was either they won or they got blown out. We put ourselves in the situation to have close games and that is a positive step. Yeah we want to win, but we have to start somewhere. Having close games lets our teammates know we can battle with anybody. We need to have a great offseason, summer, get ready for fall camp and get ready to hit them in the mouth next year.”