Tennessee needs help at wide receiver in their 2020 recruiting class. The Vols will be losing a number of receivers to graduation after the 2019 season, and they likely won’t return a great deal of experience in their receiver room for the 2020 season. Tennessee’s coaches have already sent out a lot of offers to wideouts in the 2020 cycle, and there are several receivers who are high priority targets for UT in this class.
One of the more intriguing offers the Vols have sent out is to a junior college receiver who plays for Blinn College.
Danny Gray is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound wide receiver who spent this last season at Blinn after playing high school ball at James Madison. Coming out of high school, Gray was a three-star prospect and signed with the Missouri Tigers as part of their 2018 class.
But Gray never made it in as an official member of Missouri’s roster.
“I had my mind set on going to Mizzou, and going there to work hard. I had my mind set on that,” Gray told me in a recent interview. “When I didn’t qualify for D-I ball, it hit me hard. I had to fight within myself and tell myself ‘don’t give up, keep working hard.’ Blinn is just another stop along the way in my journey.
“Ever since then, I’ve worked my tail off. I work hard for everything. Since Day One, I’ve been working.”
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Gray uses that hiccup in his football journey to fuel him, and Tennessee’s offer marked a big moment for him. The Vols were the first major program to send him a scholarship offer since he arrived at Blinn, and that offer caused an avalanche of offers to fall in for him.
Ever since UT wide receivers coach Tee Martin and support staffer Joe Osovet spoke with Gray and extended him an offer, he’s added offers from Utah, Texas Tech, Illinois, and Mississippi State. His old program, Missouri, has even offered him again.
As for his offer from Tennessee, Gray was surprised and pleased that the Vols were the first to give him an offer while he was at Blinn.
“I was amazed,” Gray said of the Vols’ offer to him. “Tennessee is a top program. They produce good players in the league. They’re an amazing program. I was excited because it was shocking and came out of nowhere. I had been talking to Coach Os (Osovet), and we had a good connection.
“That was an amazing experience to get an offer from them and them offering me an opportunity to come play at their school.”
Gray added that Tennessee’s coaches “kept it real” with him and said UT wants him to come up to Knoxville. He said that a visit to Tennessee’s campus is a “work in progress right now,” but he’s hoping he can make it soon.
While he’s at Blinn, Gray is focusing a lot on improving as a player and as a student. Tennessee’s coaches are wanting him to excel at both.
“I work hard, and all my dreams are coming true,” Gray stated. “(Tennessee’s coaches) told me ‘academics.’ They told me to take care of my academics. Academics will lead you a long way. That’s the one of the things that hold kids back today. But I’m taking care of the academics and things like that.”
In his first year on the field at Blinn, Gray flashed some of his potential that made him a target for Missouri coming out of high school. He caught 15 passes for 409 yards and six touchdowns, giving him a 27.3 yard per catch average. He also returned a kick-off for a score and ripped off three different punt returns for 20 or more yards.
But Gray isn’t satisfied with what he produced in his first season at Blinn.
“I’m not happy,” Gray said of his first year in junior college. “My first year at Blinn, I had a couple receivers in front of me. But I work hard, and every time I touched the ball I tried to make something happen. So I made something happen out of the opportunities I got. But Blinn gave me a great opportunity to showcase what I could do when I touch the ball.
“Next year, I just want to have a blessed season and show my talent more.”
Even with the limited opportunities he had to show his skill, Gray turned enough heads to warrant six different Power Five programs to extend offers to him this winter. Tennessee may have been the first to offer him this time around, but they have plenty of competition now. And if Gray has anything to say about it this fall, the Vols will get plenty more competition for his services this cycle.
“I’m trying to ball. I’m trying to blow the charts up,” Gray said. “I want over 1,200, 1,300 yards, 13 touchdowns. I’m trying to get it and eat.
“They saw me in 2018, but in 2019, I’m gonna make them feel me.”