Two weekends ago, Ole Miss hosted one of the top running back recruits in the country for an unofficial visit. Eric Gray, a four-star ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the third best all-purpose back in the 2019 class, made the drive down from Memphis to watch the Rebels square off against Alabama.
The trip didn’t seem to sway him from his standing commitment to John Harbaugh’s Michigan—at least not publicly. Gray told the Commercial Appeal last Friday that he remains “100 percent committed” to the Wolverines, calling his recruitment a “one-horse” race.
But Gray, who took an official visit to Knoxville last weekend, also said he’ll continue visiting other schools.
“I still have to take my visits, see everybody and make sure Michigan is the best place because I only took two visits,” Gray said. “I gotta make sure.”
That provides a flicker of hope for Ole Miss, which has the obvious advantage of proximity.
“Oxford is a great town,” Gray told the Appeal. “I love going down there. It’s close to home, it’s easy to get to. It’s just a great place.”
Also helping the Rebels’ cause is the fact that Michigan just received a commitment from a third 2019 running back, which could make for a crowded backfield in Ann Arbor. The only 2019 back currently committed to Ole Miss, four-star Jerrion Early, is an elite baseball prospect who’s widely expected to forgo college football for the MLB Draft.
Gray could be an immediate compliment to junior Scottie Phillips, who has one more year left in Oxford. There’s still uncertainty surrounding the explosiveness of junior Eric Swinney and the knee surgery recovery for junior D’Vaughn Pennamon.
Gray, an All-American Bowl participant, is arguably one of head coach Matt Luke’s top targets and would bring another dimension to the Fast & Furious offense. He’s a burner (4.57 speed) and dynamic athlete (35” vertical) who’s a problem in the open field. In a game against Whitehaven (Tenn.) a few weeks ago, a team with multiple Power 5-caliber players, he toted the rock 37 times for 284 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.
He’s already run for 1,136 yards in just five games this season, averaging a whopping 12.2 yards per carry while finding the end zone 18 times.
Gray has that suddenness you can’t teach, changing directions as quick as a hiccup without losing any speed. If things break down at the line of scrimmage, he can reverse field quickly and get out to the edge no problem, out-running defensive ends and linebackers before torturing defensive backs with dead-leg jukes and a sneaky tough stiff arm.
Speaking of his quickness, here he is putting it on display earlier this summer with a familiar name: Ole Miss basketball target and fellow Memphian, Antavion Collum.
@AntavionCollum and @ericdgray1 #MANWEJUSTWORK pic.twitter.com/eDlvZ6fMhq— Coach Shabazz (@Teamshabazz9) August 22, 2018
Gray holds notable offers from Alabama, LSU, Miami (Fla.), South Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M, and West Virginia, among others and will sign in December.