Gray's transfer leaves little margin for error in Vols' secondary

Cornerback to transfer closer to home

Tennessee Volunteer head coach Butch Jones directs Daniel Gray during a drill on their first day of practice in pads Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2013

Tennessee Volunteer head coach Butch Jones directs Daniel Gray during a drill on their first day of practice in pads Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

The departure of cornerback Daniel Gray, who briefly broke into Tennessee’s starting lineup as a true freshman in 2012, could aggravate the Vols’ lack of depth in the secondary.

“Daniel Gray is going to try to find an institution closer to home, and we wish him well,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Thursday.

Gray’s high school coach, Wayne Blair, said that Gray expects to be granted a full release after his final semester grades are posted.

“He should be able to go wherever he wants,” said Blair, who coached Gray at Boyd Anderson High in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

Gray missed some of spring practice with injury and wasn’t able to push for a starting job, so his loss presents no immediate concerns. But if injuries crop up in 2013, the Vols will have few experienced players to count on.

Senior Eric Gordon, the team’s top nickel back, missed nearly all of spring due to personal issues and is considered unlikely to return.

Without Gray and Gordon, UT should still have 13 defensive backs on the roster this fall, including two signees who have yet to enroll or practice.

But of that group, only five — Byron Moore, Justin Coleman, Jaron Toney, LaDarrell McNeil and Brian Randolph — have any meaningful college experience.

Of those five, only Coleman and Toney are true cornerbacks.

That means the Vols will count heavily on junior college transfer Riyahd Jones, who is likely to earn one of the starting spots, and incoming freshmen Cameron Sutton and Malik Foreman.

Injuries or additional losses could make the

situation worse.

The good news is that coach Butch Jones and his staff have loaded up on receivers, defensive backs and hybrid “athletes” since their arrival, so reinforcements could help ease the depth crunch.

The Vols will lose only two seniors — Moore and seldom-used reserve Naz Oliver — to graduation after the 2013 season.

Gray’s departure further diminishes the Class of 2012, which was already the lowest ranked of the three recruiting classes former coach Derek Dooley signed at UT. Only 15 players remain from the group that signed 15 months ago.

Among the 2012 signees no longer on the team are Gray; running backs Davante Bourque and Quenshaun Watson; defensive back Deion Bonner and defensive linemen Trent Taylor, Darrington Sentimore and Omari Phillips. Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson left after one season for the NFL draft.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 28

Orangeblood13 writes:

I figured Gordon would be back
Going to be challenging for sure

Rosie writes:

What's up with Gordon? Loved watching him play.

govolsdid writes:

Hope Gordon could get his stuff together and come back with the right mind set, he was a play maker on def. GO BIG ORANGE!

bfowler1161#262198 writes:

Little margin for error? Is that like the large margin they had last year? The secondary could struggle again this year, but it is hard to envision it being worse!

VolYork45 writes:

Only going to make the summer months that much more important for the incoming freshmen like Malik Foreman and Ryhad Jones. But like stated before, the defense statistically can't be worse than last year, and besides, I think this group is talented enough to bounce back. Next man up. Can't wait to see how the team grows over the summer. Go Vols!

nocleats writes:

There is no margin, has not been for 3 years. CBJ is fixing it but it will take a couple of years. The best way to make a secondary look good is to have a front 7 that gives QBs no time to read and react. That is going to take a couple of years too. The opportunity to come in and play on the DLine at Tennessee is wide open!

6972 writes:

We are going to need a good dose of the patience of Job, IMHO. Give this staff some time folks.

rbwtn writes:

One thing to always remember, even though it's difficult to remember because these kids are made stars, in their own minds way before they are out of High School. They are kids, still immature and frankly look at the glory, the spotlight and not what's best move for them. It's hard to catch when you are offering scholarships in a competitive race to fill your roster but this needs to be taken into account more than you may think.

Shake_Bake writes:

in response to 6972:

We are going to need a good dose of the patience of Job, IMHO. Give this staff some time folks.

You are absolutely right! This will be a tough year, especially with the schedule we have. People really need to adjust their expectations, and be realistic. If we can win six...I would be content! It is going to take time, I just hope the fans are patient.

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to Shake_Bake:

You are absolutely right! This will be a tough year, especially with the schedule we have. People really need to adjust their expectations, and be realistic. If we can win six...I would be content! It is going to take time, I just hope the fans are patient.

Yep, no doubt about it. We are in for a rough ride this fall. Hopefully Butch can do something that Dooley or Kiffin couldn't and that's win a game (or two) that we shouldn't.

antonio14313 writes:

i think he'll end up at florida st.

i hope that gordon comes back, but, if not, then a safety will have to move to corner.

it'll all work out, i'm confident of it. go vols!

t

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

Should Butch Jones be brought back for a second year if he goes 3-9?

vol1994 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Should Butch Jones be brought back for a second year if he goes 3-9?

Should "vein-popping" muschamp be brought back if the gatas go 9-3 this yr? I understand you despise the Vols but your comments are so juvenile.

GOJO writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Should Butch Jones be brought back for a second year if he goes 3-9?

Should Charlie be banished from this site if we go 7-5?

antonio14313 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Should Butch Jones be brought back for a second year if he goes 3-9?

ya don't even have to worry 'bout it. he won't go 3-9. any more questions?

go vols.

t

CantStandCantStandSaban writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Should Butch Jones be brought back for a second year if he goes 3-9?

^^^virgin^^^

FLORIDAGATORHATER writes:

No loss. Kid realized he would never start here so he thinks he will make the NFL with another team. Delusions of grandeur.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

in response to nocleats:

There is no margin, has not been for 3 years. CBJ is fixing it but it will take a couple of years. The best way to make a secondary look good is to have a front 7 that gives QBs no time to read and react. That is going to take a couple of years too. The opportunity to come in and play on the DLine at Tennessee is wide open!

Good call..The big loss here is Gordon and BOnner not Grey.I would say we will be missing Waggner and Teague but they both were AWFUL last year!!Worst secondary in UT history.Secondary cost us games last year and will again this year..Gotta do damage control here

tnsportsman writes:

in response to CantStandCantStandSaban:

Yep, no doubt about it. We are in for a rough ride this fall. Hopefully Butch can do something that Dooley or Kiffin couldn't and that's win a game (or two) that we shouldn't.

IMO there is NO DAMN reason Our VOLS should ever be below 7 wins! Just like Saban told AL after 2007, we will always have a winning record at AL going forward.

Coach Jones is doing great and should put it out there as well!

PLAY HARD VOLS, be mean and nasty again! WE WILL WIN!

GO VOLS, ALWAYS!

6972 writes:

in response to GOJO:

Should Charlie be banished from this site if we go 7-5?

I wish he could be banished if we go 0-12! I don't have diarrhea of the pen on his team site. Why does he dump on ours?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bfowler1161#262198:

Little margin for error? Is that like the large margin they had last year? The secondary could struggle again this year, but it is hard to envision it being worse!

We can perhaps take some comfort in the likelihood that all of these young guys haven't played enough to have acquired bad habits that have to be trained out of them! I think it is bush-league the way some fans kick a guy on his way out the door, but if he wasn't happy here for any reason, it is probably best for all concerned that he moves on. Next man up!

CroKev writes:

I sure hope Gordon comes back and what's up with that comment from Gray's HS coach, “He should be able to go wherever he wants”? Would CBJ allow him to go to an SEC school or another school on our schedule?

LSG410EC83 writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So hard to do (I have fell into their slimy trap myself too many times) but so true. They tend to get more post than ones that are supportive of the Big Orange. Look forward to the upcoming season. Believe we have the coach we need. Just need to be patient. IT IS GREAT TO BE A TENNESSE VOL. GO BIG ORANGE. Class of 83

VFL_Troll_Patrol writes:

I wish him luck In the future! GBO
I wanted to tell you guys that my cousin has some highlight videos up on youtube. He has been doing great and Is looking to someday play at UT as a volunteer! He's a WR, #81. Im so excited for him and I wanted to ask everyone to wish him luck. Thanks

Torrey Hunt Highlights:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSJgxN...

*Im always watching*

suggest_removal_4_all_troll_posts writes:

Too bad about Gray, he was torched a lot last year but would likely be better this year.

mloaks#222092 writes:

in response to rbwtn:

One thing to always remember, even though it's difficult to remember because these kids are made stars, in their own minds way before they are out of High School. They are kids, still immature and frankly look at the glory, the spotlight and not what's best move for them. It's hard to catch when you are offering scholarships in a competitive race to fill your roster but this needs to be taken into account more than you may think.

Good take. Memories of my frosh year at UTK scare me still...

The kid got some PT last season so he was more than depth...

Mama_Also_Calls_Me_Precious writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, the best way to deal with trolls is have a team that consistently wins, doesn't have players getting arrested every weekend and has coaches that don't make bone headed calls like our previous two geniuses in doofus and Sally sunflower. coach jones has proved in his previous coaching jobs that he knows what he is doing and I think he can get us a few wins this year no one expects us to get..this is how trolls get silenced!!

62vol writes:

in response to antonio14313:

i think he'll end up at florida st.

i hope that gordon comes back, but, if not, then a safety will have to move to corner.

it'll all work out, i'm confident of it. go vols!

t

Gordon was part of the problem at CB last year and lost his job. His up-side is that he is a hard hitter (our best) and his down-side is that he iusually out of position. If good coaching could fix that problem, then he could be a very good corner in addition to nickel back. Having him back giving up big plays will be of no help.

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