Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt seemed to insinuate that the position change experiments were done for now on Thursday, but apparently that isn’t the case. Maleik Gray was spotted working with the receiver group on Saturday after spending his first season in Knoxville on the defensive side of the ball.
UT's Maleik Gray is working at wide receiver. Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt said Gray played linebacker and receiver in high school, not defensive back. Pruitt said he is trying to find the best position for his players.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) August 5, 2018
Gray was recruited as a safety — a pretty good one at that. He was the 10th ranked safety in the country and the 80th rated player in the class of 2017, according to 247 Sports. Gray spent last season at safety, but worked some at cornerback for the new coaching staff this spring. The former in-state prospect has now flipped to the other side of the ball for now.
This is noteworthy considering Tennessee’s overall lack of depth at cornerback. At 6-2, 200 pounds, Gray does seem to pit what Pruitt wants out of his corners. But that size could also be utilized on the offensive side.
“He’s a guy that has some size and has speed,” Pruitt told the media at Neyland Stadium on Sunday. “He’s been a defensive player, but we recruited Maleik in high school and he didn’t really play defensive back. He played offense and he played outside linebacker. We think he is a guy that can run a little bit and we just want to see what he can do.”
Pruitt confirmed to open camp that freshmen Bryce Thompson and Alontae Taylor would begin their Tennessee careers on the defensive side of the ball, playing cornerback. That may have opened the door to try some things out with Gray.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Gray sticks at the position, which is actually stocked up pretty well right now. Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway, Brandon Johnson, Tyler Byrd and Josh Palmer should form a nice top five rotation.