Behind the cover
It’s the single most important, most historic, most controversial, most loved, most reviled, most unpredictable thing that Dave Campbell’s Texas Football does every year. We know it. But it’s our responsibility.
It’s the DCTF cover, and it’s never an easy decision.
Yesterday, before the magazine began to hit stores across the Lone Star State, we revealed the cover of the 2011 summer edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, featuring Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray and Aledo running back Johnathan Gray.
The reaction has been generally positive, with a few exceptions, and we’re certainly glad the DCTF fans have liked it for the most part. Because, well, we’ve been working on it for quite a while.
Let’s walk you through our cover selection process.
The DCTF staff – it didn’t include me at the time –starts kicking around ideas for the cover. The general requirements: someone who excelled last season and looks poised to excel in the upcoming season, with considerations given for how recently that team has been on the cover. For example, it would have been hard to justify putting TCU on the 2011 summer cover – with the 2010 summer cover (Andy Dalton) and the 2011 winter cover (Rose Bowl victory), that would have been three covers in a row, which wouldn’t represent the balance we strive for at DCTF.
The cover is set for the Grays (no relation, by the way). I can’t speak for the entire DCTF braintrust, but from where I’m sitting, it’s easy to see why Cyrus Gray was the choice: a star player who sparked a turnaround and has his team poised for what could be (and should be) a big year. With Johnathan Gray, it’s a bit tougher: after all, he’s the second main focus coverboy in DCTF history. But the numbers – over 3,000 yards and a state record 59 touchdowns – and impact on the Aledo program (which, to remind you, hadn't won a state title since its move to 4A, and has since won two since Gray arrived) make him, in my mind, an excellent choice.
(There’s a conspiracy theory floating around that we only put Johnathan Gray on the cover because he was a Texas commit. This is patently false; we locked in the cover subject back when Gray had narrowed his choices down to Texas A&M, Texas and TCU. There’s another conspiracy theory floating around that we would have had a different cover if Johnathan Gray had committed to TCU. Also patently false, and not even a well thought-out conspiracy theory. People are funny.)
We shoot the cover at Midlothian High School. Before we get any further, we owe a huge shout-out to Steve Keasler, the Midlothian AD, and the entire Midlothian athletic department, who were absolutely wonderful to work with. There are lots of great stories from that day. Cyrus and Johnathan were terrific to work with – but admittedly, I was a little worried that there would be some animosity between them (Johnathan had verbally committed to Texas just seven days earlier). But there wasn’t: Cyrus and Johnathan had met before, so they had a bit of a rapport, and it shows in the final images. Both were just terrific to work with, as were photographers Stephen McClung and Gary Faulkenberry.
After some final tweaks to the copy – you’ll notice that the sub-headline uses the vaunted plural possessive tense – the cover is finally locked in. Four months of work to get the final product, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.