Tennessee’s coaches had been pushing to get four-star, in-state running back Eric Gray to come be a Vol for a while. And then on Thursday, December 20th during the early signing period, all their efforts paid off.
Gray, who broke state records while playing for Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, decommitted from Michigan on December 1st after being committed to the Wolverines for months. And on December 20th, he ended up signing with the Vols.
So what made the highly-rated in-state prospect decide to forgo his previous commitment to Michigan and choose Tennessee?
In a Q&A on Tennessee’s official Twitter account, Gray stated that proximity to home played a huge factor in his decision, but that wasn’t all. He also gave a lot of credit to Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, claiming that Pruitt didn’t try to trick him or falsely sell anything to him about coming to Tennessee.
“For me, staying close to home and really getting to gel with the coaches, Coach Weinke, Coach Pruitt,” Gray responded when asked why he signed with the Vols. “I like that Coach Pruitt shot me straight and told me what it was. He didn’t lie to me in the recruiting process. He was real with me. Ultimately, that’s why I signed.”
Tennessee’s previous coaching staff didn’t make much of an impression on the talented in-state back, and he ended up committing to Michigan on July 1st. It wasn’t until UT hired Jeremy Pruitt that Gray really began to consider the Vols. He visited UT’s campus in April of 2018 after not going to Knoxville for almost a year.
But after that, Gray seemingly couldn’t get enough of Tennessee later on in the year.
The in-state back visited Tennessee about a dozen times between September and his signing in December. And now he’s officially a member of the Vols’ football team.
In his four years with Lausanne, Gray amassed 8,187 rushing yards and 124 rushing touchdowns on 863 carries. His rushing yardage total ranks second all-time in Tennessee state history according to TSSAA records. He finished behind only Troy Flemming’s career mark of 9,442 yards. He ranks first in career rushing touchdowns and fifth in career carries.
Gray is also the only player in Tennessee history to win the Mr. Football award three consecutive seasons. He won the award for the running back position as a sophomore, a junior, and a senior.
The 5-foot-10, 198-pound back is an early enrollee and is currently enrolled in classes at Tennessee. He’ll go through spring practices with the Vols once they begin in March.