BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tennessee running back Eric Gray was named SEC Freshman of the Week by the conference office on Monday afternoon.
Gray had a record-setting performance in the Vols’ 28-10 win over Vanderbilt last Saturday, rushing for a UT true freshman-record 246 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Jamal Lewis previously held the rookie record with his 232-yard effort against Georgia in 1997. Gray’s total also was the fifth-highest rushing total in school history and the most by any SEC player this season.
The Memphis native raced to the checkerboards on runs of 56 and 94 yards in the first and second quarters, respectively, and added a 4-yard dash in the fourth quarter. His 94-yarder was the longest rush ever by a Tennessee true freshman and the second-longest carry in school history behind Kelsey Finch’s 99-yarder versus Florida in 1977.
With his incredible performance, Gray more than doubled his rushing total for the season after entering the game with 207 total rushing yards on the year.
Gray is the first Vol this season to be named SEC Freshman of the Week and the seventh UT player to earn SEC weekly honors this season, joining Daniel Bituli (two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week), Jarrett Guarantano (SEC Offensive Player of the Week), Jauan Jennings (SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week), Brandon Kennedy (SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week), Trey Smith (two-time SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week) and Bryce Thompson (SEC Defensive Player of the Week).
The win was UT’s fifth straight and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Commodores. The Big Orange will find out their bowl destination on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Three Vols Recognized by PFF College
Gray, Smith and Dominick Wood-Anderson were also named to the PFF College SEC Offensive Team of the Week. Wood-Anderson led the team with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown while Smith anchored the Vols’ offensive line that helped pave the way for a season-high 297 yards rushing.