When Danny Gray signed with Missouri in December 2017 coming out of high school, the Tigers were the only SEC team that extended a scholarship offer to him. Now that he’s playing at a junior college, he might have more options this time around.
The Class of 2020 wide receiver from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, said he was pleasantly surprised to get a scholarship offer Tuesday from Tennessee — his first offer since he enrolled at the junior college last summer — and he said he’s “going to try to visit” the Vols in the coming months.
“I wasn't expecting (offers) to come in this early, right now,” said Gray, who’s expected to be one of the top junior-college receivers in the 2020 class. “But it’s a blessing. Everything is a blessing.” The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Gray said he learned of the offer during a phone conversation with new Tennessee wide receivers coach Tee Martin. Gray said he also has talked with Vols quality control analyst Joe Osovet, a former junior-college head coach.
“They said I have good route-running, I’m aggressive, I’m fast, I’m physical,” Gray said. “They can tell I work hard, and (Martin) was just telling me a lot of good stuff. “He gave me a lot of things. He’s a great man, great coach — everything. He had a lot to say good about me, and he wants to work with me, wants to get me better. He wants to produce me, and I like that.”
Gray said he’s “very familiar with Tennessee,” although he never has visited the Vols and they didn’t recruit him coming out of high school, and he’s planning to take a closer look at them. “I know they have a good program,” said Gray, who was ranked the No. 517 overall prospect and No. 86 wide receiver in the 2018 class, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. “I know they produce guys that are in the league now. They have a good workout program. They have a good football program, at that. "They’re a really good school.”
“Coach Oz, that’s my guy right there,” Gray added, referring to Osovet. “Man, he keeps it real with you. He was in juco for a lot of years — for, like, 16 years. He did juco for a while, so he knows how it is. He knows how certain juco kids work and how bad they want it. “He sees it in me, and I thank him for that. I thank him for giving me a chance to show the world.”
Gray didn’t start in his first year at Blinn, but he still caught 15 passes for 409 yards and six touchdowns during his freshman season. While Gray said he’s not sure when he might be able to visit Tennessee, he added that “there’s a chance I might make it before” he begins taking his official visits later this year. Missouri, which signed Gray before academics forced him to go the junior-college route, has stayed in contact with him. He said the Tigers have let him know that his previous offer from them still is valid.
“I was amazed,” Gray said of the Vols’ offer to him. “Tennessee is a top program. They produce good players in the league. They’re an amazing program. I was excited because it was shocking and came out of nowhere. I had been talking to Coach Os (Osovet), and we had a good connection.
“That was an amazing experience to get an offer from them and them offering me an opportunity to come play at their school.”
Gray added that Tennessee’s coaches “kept it real” with him and said UT wants him to come up to Knoxville. He said that a visit to Tennessee’s campus is a “work in progress right now,” but he’s hoping he can make it soon.
While he’s at Blinn, Gray is focusing a lot on improving as a player and as a student. Tennessee’s coaches are wanting him to excel at both.
“I work hard, and all my dreams are coming true,” Gray stated. “(Tennessee’s coaches) told me ‘academics.’ They told me to take care of my academics. Academics will lead you a long way. That’s the one of the things that hold kids back today. But I’m taking care of the academics and things like that.”
In his first year on the field at Blinn, Gray flashed some of his potential that made him a target for Missouri coming out of high school. He caught 15 passes for 409 yards and six touchdowns, giving him a 27.3 yard per catch average. He also returned a kick-off for a score and ripped off three different punt returns for 20 or more yards.
But Gray isn’t satisfied with what he produced in his first season at Blinn.
“I’m not happy,” Gray said of his first year in junior college. “My first year at Blinn, I had a couple receivers in front of me. But I work hard, and every time I touched the ball I tried to make something happen. So I made something happen out of the opportunities I got. But Blinn gave me a great opportunity to showcase what I could do when I touch the ball.
“Next year, I just want to have a blessed season and show my talent more.”
Even with the limited opportunities he had to show his skill, Gray turned enough heads to warrant six different Power Five programs to extend offers to him this winter. Tennessee may have been the first to offer him this time around, but they have plenty of competition now. And if Gray has anything to say about it this fall, the Vols will get plenty more competition for his services this cycle.
“I’m trying to ball. I’m trying to blow the charts up,” Gray said. “I want over 1,200, 1,300 yards, 13 touchdowns. I’m trying to get it and eat.
“They saw me in 2018, but in 2019, I’m gonna make them feel me.”