June 12, 2016
Maleik Gray has been torching opposing defenses at LaVergne High School for years, and he announced Sunday that he’ll look to continue that trend at Tennessee after making his commitment official.
Gray announced the news on Twitter:
The 4-star athlete is the fourth-ranked player in the state of Tennessee and the fifth-ranked safety in the Class of 2017, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. Among all 2017 recruits, he occupies the 57th overall spot.
At 6’1 ½” and 195 pounds, Gray proved capable of bursting through holes in a flash or powering over defenders with some surprising strength.
A dynamic weapon out of the backfield, Gray is the sort of game-breaker who can be utilized in a variety of fashions. Not only can he take direct handoffs and read defenses before bursting through the line, but he can torch defenses as a receiver via screen passes or wheel routes.
However, Bleacher Report’s Brad Shepard noted he’s strong enough to potentially play linebacker at the next level. And he possibly has the most upside as a safety, as Scout.com offered in its analysis of the player:
Gray spends a lot of time inside the box on the high school level, but he will likely start out in the secondary at safety in college. He could become a hybrid due to his size, his ability to play the run, and how effective he can be used in blitz packages. He really can run and close on the football. He plays with great instincts and he stays around the ball. Gray is very athletic and he shines at running back and wide receiver some as well. His home is on defense in the future.
But regardless of where he lines up, there’s plenty to like about Gray’s upside.
The physicality he flashed repeatedly in high school bodes well for his ability to make a smooth transition to the college game as the speed and size of his opponents become more daunting.
Tennessee does have solid depth in the secondary, with Cameron Sutton, Evan Berry, Justin Martin, Emmanuel Moseley, Malik Foreman, Rashaan Gaulden, Marquill Osborne, D.J. Henderson, Nigel Warrior, Tyler Byrd and Baylen Buchanan all vying for playing time.
But Gray’s versatility will certainly help him carve out a role at Tennessee, even if the team’s defensive backfield remains crowded once he heads to campus.
Read more Tennessee Volunteers Football news on BleacherReport.com