OU football: Eric Gray bringing professional approach to Sooners' running backs room

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Joe Buettner, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
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Apr. 8—Eric Gray had little doubt about where he wanted to transfer following two seasons with Tennessee.

The 5-foot-10 running back, who rushed for 772 yards and four touchdowns last season, realized a major opportunity awaited him at Oklahoma.

"Just looking at the past, you see how great the offense is," Gray said. "I saw myself and how great I could fit into the offense just playing for a guy like Lincoln Riley and having a position coach like DeMarco Murray, someone who's played in the [NFL], who's been there before, it was just all-around amazing."

Gray acted on his instinct, transferred to OU and is practicing with the team this spring.

He's only had a couple of months to get acclimated with OU's running backs group, which must replace 2020 starter and NFL-bound running back Rhamondre Stevenson this coming season.

Gray's transition has been smooth so far, according to Murray, who's entering his second year as OU's running backs coach.

"The first word that comes to mind about Eric Gray is a pro," Murray said. "He's a true pro on and off the field. He's a guy that shows up early, stays late, extremely smart. The transition for him offensively, scheme-wise has been very, honestly, easy for him. And our offense is extremely complicated."

Gray has leaned on Kennedy Brooks, who opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for guidance and has felt welcomed by a group that includes Seth McGowan, Marcus Major and adds former h-back Mikey Henderson.

Despite the crowded room, Gray, who was the Volunteers' leading rusher last season, can carve out several roles, considering his experience as a punt and kick returner.

Murray noted Gray will need to develop his skill set in pass protection but shouldn't struggle to stay on the field with his diverse skill set.

"He's been really good for our room, really good for our team and our offense specifically," Murray said. "But he's just a guy that with the demeanor that he had, very similar to mine, quiet guy. He's about his business. I love working with him.

"It's a privilege to come every day and work with him and make sure he's continuing to get better, he's continuing to compete. He's an extremely versatile guy and we plan to use him all over the place."

Joe Buettner

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jbuettner@normantranscript.com