NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Maleik Gray will tell you, “it changes every day” when it comes to his favorite choice among the schools who have offered him a scholarship, but on Sunday, it was Tennessee.
Gray tugged at the Tennessee-camp shirt he was wearing when asked for a leader, “They’re on the top,” he said.
Later, he privately revealed to SEC Country that his budding relationship with Vols defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has become a pivotal element in his recruitment.
“Coach Shoop has already showed me some things that could make me very successful,” said Gray, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound safety from LaVergne who attended the Vols’ satellite camp at Tennessee State on Sunday. “He has shown me how a lot of the defense could be predicated around me; there are some scheme things I’ve never seen before.”
Shoop is expected to give the Vols’ defense a lift after joining Coach Butch Jones’ staff after successful stints at Vanderbilt and Penn State with Nittany Lions coach James Franklin.
Gray had been on the SEC radar since Vanderbilt offered him a scholarship when he was in 8th grade, but the Vols followed suit soon after.
“It all started with Tennessee the beginning of my freshman year,” said Gray.
Florida State and Alabama are listed as Gray’s other favorites, but he has made it clear the Vols have some built-in advantages.
“It’s my home state, and Coach Jones is working on something I’d like to be a part of,” said Gray, a 2017 prospect ranked the No. 55 player in the nation and No. 4 player in the state.
“It just feels like home, honestly.”
Gray said he will dutifully attend the Vols’ “Orange Carpet” recruiting event on June 18th, but he also has visits planned to Florida State, Miami (Florida), Alabama and the University of Florida.
— Zach Azzanni COACH Z (@UTCoachZA) June 6, 2016
Recruit rankings 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.