The Midwestern State Mustangs (Wichita Falls) opened Lone Star Conference play with a 35-13 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville at Wichita Falls’ Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Unfortunately, the joy of a win was taken by tragedy.
With 3:24 left in the game, cornerback Robert Grays went in for a tackle, and went down with a serious neck injury. He received treatment at United Regional Medical Center in Wichita Falls before being flown to a Houston medical center to be with family, while the MSU community gathered for a vigil and prayers.
Sadly, as first reported by MSU student paper The Wichitan Online, Grays passed away from the injury Tuesday night.
Grays, a sophomore, was in his second season suiting up for the Mustangs. As a true freshman, he played in all 11 games for MSU’s 2016 campaign, and finished with 24 tackles. Grays was also key on special teams, leading MSU with 22.7 average yards per kickoff return. Highlights included a 73-yard return against Oklahoma Panhandle State, and a total of 66 yards on three punt return attempts against Western New Mexico.
Grays enrolled at Midwestern State after a standout career at Fort Bend Hightower, earning first team 23-6A all district honors his senior year in 2015, guiding the Hurricanes to a 10-0 record under head coach Padriac McGinnis.
“Robert touched many lives while attending the university, but perhaps he will be remembered best for his smile. He was an inspiration on and off the field to those around him, and he will be remembered with love and affection by his friends, classmates, coaches and teammates,” said Midwestern State University president Suzanne Shipley in a statement. “The tragedy has struck at the heart of the community, and has affected us in many ways. Today, I encourage you to join with your peers to help one another. Together we are stronger.”
“We are saddened by the loss of Robert Grays, one of our own. This is not an easy time for anyone associated with the football program,” said MSU head football coach Bill Maskill. “He was a tremendous individual. I really believe he might have been the most popular man on our team. He always had a smile on his face. I never saw him have a bad day. He was an uplifting spirit for all of us. He was an exciting, fun loving guy. He’s going to be sorely missed.”
Grays, 19, was majoring in general business.
“Somehow, someway we’ll find a way to fight through it,” Maskill said. “Robert would want us to forge ahead.”
Funeral arrangements and on-campus memorial plans are pending. TexasHSFootball.com will update this story as it develops.