Yes, this is an odd one. After all, Tennessee football should be set at running back with Ty Chandler as the Vols’ best offensive weapon, Jeremy Banks as their only power back and Tim Jordan and Carlin Fils-Aime as the veteran, fundamental guys to provide the depth Jeremy Pruitt wants.
However, that’s the key phrase: depth. Pruitt wants to be able to go four deep with different types of backs, and Chandler is the only other back who brings a speed presence to the position. As a result, Eric Gray, a four-star speedster out of Memphis, has an incredible chance to see action pretty quickly this year.
Gray was an early enrollee, so he also got a head start on being able to learn the nuances of what Pruitt and Jim Chaney want to do. His raw abilities are enough to maybe even move him up the depth chart past Jordan and Fils-Aime. Don’t be surprised if he gets into the rotation.
If he doesn’t, though, he’s still got a great chance at seeing lots of action. With Gray around, Pruitt can focus on making Chandler a feature back and not use him as much on kickoff returns. All of a sudden, Gray could be the return specialist on kickoffs and punts given his speed. That’s considered a very likely scenario and why he’s so high on this list.