Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray coached cornerback Kyle Fuller, the Bears’ first-round pick, all four years in college. He helped nurture Fuller’s versatility in coverage, a trait that attracted the Bears to him.
In a recent phone conversation, Gray, who was the Bears’ assistant defensive backs coach from 2004-05, discussed Fuller’s versatility, intelligence, toughness and other traits that prompted the Bears to rate Fuller as the best cornerback in this year’s draft class.
Q: What games stick in your mind as ones Kyle really shined in for you?
TG: “I think the two games that really helped him out—because he had a short senior year that was cut in half—was the Alabama game, the first game of the year that was nationally televised. He had a great game there. And then on the Thursday night game against Georgia Tech, that was another nationally televised game. We moved him out from the corner spot. When coaches look at those two games, I think they say, ‘Wow, his versatility really shows through and is off the charts.’ I thought he had a solid North Carolina game from this past year and the Marshall game was a solid game. I am naming four games and he only started eight. He had a pretty good year.”
Q: In that Georgia Tech game, Phil Emery talked about you using him as an inverted safety. What about his versatility made him a good fit for that?
TG: “That’s a different offense (option) all together we were playing. You can call it whatever you want, but he was basically an outside linebacker and we were blitzing him a lot, and we were putting him in a spot he played a lot for us as a sophomore. Instead of having our natural outside linebacker do it, Kyle was so good at it. He is that good of a football player and that versatile, and he was big that game because he caused a turnover the first or second series, and that kind of set the tempo for the game.”
Q: A lot of times it is hard to find a defensive back, let alone a cornerback, that will want to blitz through the A-gap, isn’t it?
TG: “You’ve got linemen that are cutting at your legs and knees and stuff. Heck, you will have linebackers that won’t want to do the stuff that position requires you to do a little bit. You have to sort through a lot of trash and you have to have a certain mentality, and we knew he was good at it, and that is why we made that adjustment. Like I said, that just kind of shows his versatility and his toughness and says a lot about the kid.”
Q: What about his arm length. His 32 7/8-inch arms are as long as some offensive linemen. How does that length help him?
TG: “It’s amazing because I never paid attention to it that much, and I guess that is one of the things that pro guys measure at the combine. It comes into play.”
Q: What is his greatest attribute?
TG: “Kyle’s biggest strength is his versatility. His sophomore year for us he was an All-Conference player, big-time player playing the nickel. So he was playing man in the slot. He was blitzing. He was playing in the short zones, but he was a big-time blitzer, and he did a great job there. Then his junior year he played corner, but he wasn’t totally healthy the whole year. So he was playing corner, and this year he really got himself back healthy before that thing flared back up on him again, and he was having a big-time year at the cornerback spot. You see the Alabama game, he can play press man, he can play off man, he’ll come down and diagnose things and tackle well. It’s not farfetched for him to play corner, nickel or safety. I think that is just is versatility and he can mentally handle all of those things because he has a great football IQ.”
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