Tennessee added some big time juice to their backfield for the 2019 season, landing four-star running back Eric Gray during the early signing period last winter. The former Michigan commit ended up staying in-state after running for over 8,000 yards in high school.
With Ty Chandler, Tim Jordan and Jeremy Banks on the roster, Gray was far from a lock to make an instant impact in Knoxville as a freshman. A shoulder injury ended up keeping him out of spring practice, making his battle for playing time even more of an uphill climb. However, in just a handful of practices, Gray is already turning heads.
“Eric’s very mature,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt told the media last weekend. “When you watch him practice and go about his business, he gets it the first time. He learns from other people’s mistakes.”
Gray was a top 100 player in the 2019 class, landing as the second ranked all-purpose back in the country. He scored over 130 touchdowns during his high school career, averaging 9.5 yards per carry during that span.
“He’s got really good ball skills, he’s got good vision,” Pruitt continued. “He’s a good competitor. He jumps out there — he’s very mature when it comes to football ability. We’re excited about him and think he’s had a really good camp so far. Again, this is a guy who’s been really good in practice, been really good in the drills, let’s see how he does when we get over here to the stadium.”
And during that scrimmage over the weekend, the three-time Mr. Football winner in the state of Tennessee delivered with a long touchdown, according to multiple reports.
With buzz building, it’s fair to wonder just how much playing time Eric Gray can actually get this fall playing behind Ty Chandler. We know Chandler struggled to stay healthy last year and may not be a guy that can handle a full workload between the tackles. Tim Jordan ended up being Tennessee’s main between-the-tackles runner last year, but could Gray eat into Jordan’s carries in 2019? After reading glowing review after glowing review, it certainly does seem possible — even likely at this point.
The 5-10, 195 pound back may not have the top end speed of Chandler, but he may be more electric in the open field. We don’t have any college tape to look at yet, but below you can get a little taste of what Gray will bring to the Tennessee backfield this season.