Matt Luke has been known as one of Hugh Freeze’s best recruiters since arriving in Oxford in 2012 and he’s proven it once again by landing a commitment from Under Armour All-American offensive tackle Tony Gray.
Gray, a three-star product from the same high school that produced the Nkemdiche brothers and, more recently, 2017 four-star linebacker Breon Dixon, was hard to read down the stretch of his recruitment. He named Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and South Carolina as his top five in early January and followed that up with official visits to Columbia, Gainesville and Oxford.
“Most definitely playing time and a coach that can develop me into a good football player,” Gray listed as the top factors in his decision while talking to The State in mid-January after his visit to South Carolina.
While early playing time will be hard to carve out on an Ole Miss team that’s signed six tackle prospects over the last two cycles, Laremy Tunsil and Fahn Cooper serve as examples of the the Rebels’ O-line development program.
How does he fit in?
The 6’5, 290-pounder is the type of blocker who new offensive coordinator Phil Longo will count on while refitting Ole Miss’ offense with a more physical, downhill run game. His quickness is an asset in both run and pass situations, allowing him to get out of his stance for quick push and also gain depth when taking on a heated pass rush.
It could be a while, however, before Gray finds an opening in the depth chart. Greg Little, the top tackle prospect in the country in 2016, will likely take over as the full-time starter on the blind side for the next two years. Alex Givens, who came on strong down the stretch last season, and four-star 2016 signee Bryce Matthews, will compete on the right side. Royce Newman, Chandler Tuitt, Jack DeFoor and Tyler Putman will also factor in the mix over the next couple of seasons. The good thing is that Gray is athletic and bulky enough that he could possibly slide inside if need be.