Eric Gray, Wolverine

Eric Gray, Wolverine


July 1, 2018

Memphis (TN) Lausanne RB Eric Gray (image via Herald-Citizen)

Memphis (TN) Lausanne running back Eric Gray committed to Michigan on Sunday evening. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, LSU, Penn State, Stanford, and Tennessee, among others.

This is my favorite kind of commitment video:

 

Gray is listed at 5’10”, 191 lbs. As a junior in 2017, he ran the ball 323 times for 3,151 yards and 45 touchdowns. He also had 11 catches for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns.

RATINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 81 grade, #17 RB, #275 overall
Rivals: 3-star, #9 all-purpose back
247 Sports: 4-star, 94 grade, #1 all-purpose RB, #95 overall

Hit the jump for more on Gray’s commitment.

Gray camped at Michigan in June of 2017, so the interest has been there for a while. The Wolverines’ coaching staff did not seem to be pursuing him heavily for a period, but the intensity of that courtship increased in recent months. He took an official visit in June, and according to reports right afterward, he came out of that visit as a silent commitment. It took him a week to put together his commitment video, and he made the commitment public on Sunday night.

Gray is built low to the ground with thick thighs. The statistics posted above are outlandish, and he did those things with a combination of traits, but the #1 reason (okay, and #2) is vision and change of direction. He can see blocks developing and knows whether to hit the hole or whether to hold off before shifting into high gear. He finds cutback lanes and has the ability to make several cutbacks on one play to gain extra yardage. One surprising thing about Gray is his lower body strength, because he shows repeatedly that he’s tough to take down with arm tackles. His top-end speed is above average, though not exceptional.

That lack of top-end speed sticks out as one of his most significant weaknesses. He won’t run away from a ton of defensive backs at the next level unless they take bad angles, but that’s where his change-of-direction skills will come in handy. There are also some fundamental things he will need to improve in college, like his timing and footwork in the backfield. While he does have patience with the ball in his hands, he will need to slow down some of his counter steps and sell his blocking a little better before setting up for screens.

Overall, Gray is an excellent pickup for Michigan. This is an excellent 1-2 punch with him and Charbonnet. It’s not really a thunder-and-lightning situation because neither one is one or the other, but Charbonnet is that traditional three-down back, while Gray seems like more of a third-down guy. However, Gray has the type of lower body structure that makes me think he could also be an every-down guy. I don’t pull this comparison out very often, but dare I say . . . Mike Hart? They’re both slightly undersized players who are tough, have great vision, and lack great top-end speed.

TTB Rating: 82 (ratings explanation)

UPDATE: Speaking of that 1-2 punch, Steve Wiltfong had this tweet to share:

 

3 comments

  1. Comments: 162
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Jul 01, 2018 at 11:17 PM

    I’m finally liking the RB situation. Though I like Charbonnet much more I think Gray is a nice pickup. I don’t mind the lack of top end speed because he has the quick burst. His first 10 yards are comparable to any 4.4 40 second kid in this class. My one question with him is his ability to break tackles. Great highlights but not many of him actually breaking tackles. Does he go down easy? I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t need to break tackles because no one could get a solid hit on him. Regardless, your ranking of 82 seems fair. I guessed an 80 before reading your post.

  2. Comments: 1191
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Jul 02, 2018 at 7:27 AM

    Nice back. I think he’s shifter than Hart, probably not as strong. Still a reasonable comparison at the high school level although he’s a long way from even sniffing Hart’s career stats.

    I’d have rather he was squatting in his vid. Nit picking.

  3. JC
    Comments: 196
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Jul 02, 2018 at 10:08 AM

    From what I can find his 100m PR is 11.25. Good, not elite, faster than Hart, faster than De’veon Smith. To give a frame of reference:
    O’Maury: 11.22
    Evans: 10.9
    Toussaint: 10.74
    Peppers: 10.52
    Denard: 10.5 (I don’t totally believe the 10.28).

    Anything sub 11 is elite speed.

    Overall I’m very excited for this one. I’m very excited for both backs in this class.

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