Tennessee sophomore running back Eric Gray was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List on Wednesday. The award is given annually to the best running back in the country.
The SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will name 10 semifinalists in November, and then three finalists as voted on by the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee. The committee will cast a second vote in December to determine the recipient.
The National Selection Committee consists of past recipients: Former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members, and selected special representatives. The recipient of the 2020 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on The Home Depot College Football Awards.
Gray is coming off of a freshman campaign where he led Tennessee with four rushing touchdowns and finished second on the team with 539 rushing yards on 101 carries and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Through the air, he caught 13 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
The Memphis, Tennessee native’s freshman season was highlighted by two performances at the end of the season. Against Vanderbilt in the season finale, Gray rushed for 246 yards, the most ever by a freshman running back in program history and the most by an SEC running back in 2019. He added three rushing touchdowns, one of which went for 94 yards in the second quarter. It was the second-longest rushing touchdown in school history and the 10th-longest in the history of the SEC.
In the final game of the season, Gray rushed for 86 yards on 14 carries against Indiana in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. His 16-yard rushing touchdown proved to be the game-winning score. He also had two catches for 34 yards. Gray’s 120 all-purpose yards were a game-high, and he recovered a key onside key to help lead Tennessee to its eighth win of the season.
Gray signed with Tennessee as a four-star running back despite being committed to Michigan for several months. He played in the US Army All-American Game after an accomplished career at Lausanne Collegiate School. Gray was a three-time Tennessee Mr. Football winner, winning the award in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
No Tennessee running back has ever won the Doak Walker Award, but Travis Stephens was a finalist for the award in 2001 after rushing for 1,464 yards and 10 touchdowns on 291 carries, adding 19 receptions for 169 yards and a score.
Gray is the second sophomore in the program to be named to a major award watch list this week. On Monday, linebacker Henry To’o To’o was named to the Bednarik Award watch list which is presented annually to the most outstanding defensive player in college football.
Tennessee is scheduled to kick off its 2020 season on Sept. 5 against Charlotte in Neyland Stadium.