Drake Maye’s leadership approach earns high praise from UNC teammate at NFL combine

Cedric Gray has known his former North Carolina Tar Heels teammate and fellow NFL Draft prospect, quarterback Drake Maye, since high school.

Gray and Maye, who are both from the Charlotte area, battled against and played with each other before they reunited at Chapel Hill during the quarterback’s true freshman year in 2021. Gray — who went to Ardrey Kell High — has seen Maye — a Myers Park High alum — grow into a strong leader over the past few years.

While speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Gray gave a specific example of Maye’s approach to leadership.

During the 2023 offseason, Maye and the Tar Heels’ offense worked against Gray and the North Carolina defense. After a plethora of plays, Gray noticed a tendency and went to his quarterback for answers.

Maye was happy to oblige with some helpful insight.

“He was kind of throwing some back-shoulder passes to some tight ends versus me during practice,” Gray said. “And I was like, ‘What’s making you always throw that back-shoulder (pass) against me?’ For him to kind of give me insight of why he’s doing that, and to make me a better football player, as a linebacker in coverage, I think that was amazing. It just shows his true leadership.”

Maye and Gray were captains during their time with the Tar Heels.

While they each led their respective units, Maye and Gray still had their battles in practice. Their competition with each other dates back to when Gray was still trying to figure out his place on the football field, flipping back and forth between wide receiver and linebacker in high school.

“Me and Drake are both Charlotte guys, so I played against him in high school, we also played on the same 7-on-7 team — I played wide receiver in high school so he was my quarterback,” Gray said. “So, we have a great relationship, (have) known each other for a long time. In practice, we like to talk trash to each other, we like to compete and different things like that. He’s just a great competitor, a great leader, and I just love that I had the ability to have him as my teammate at Carolina.”

Maye enters the week of workouts in Indianapolis as NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s second-ranked quarterback, behind Southern California’s Caleb Williams. Gray is projected by many analysts to be a Day 2 draft pick.

And while they may not end up together in the NFL, there does stand a chance that they’ll continue their battles at the next level, with Maye leading an offense and Gray making an impact on defense.