Eric Gray announces transfer from Tennessee football to Oklahoma
Instead, the former Vols running back will play for Heupel's alma mater.
Gray announced his transfer to Oklahoma on Twitter on Wednesday. He is the third Tennessee player to depart for Oklahoma in January.
Heupel was hired as Tennessee's coach Wednesday afternoon to replace Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired for cause on Jan. 18.
Gray posted 1,026 total yards in nine games in 2020 — 772 rushing yards and 254 receiving yards. Gray, who set a UT freshman record with 246 rushing yards against Vanderbilt, led UT in rushing touchdowns in both his seasons.
The Memphis product was unavailable to play in UT's season-ending loss to Texas A&M. Pruitt declined to elaborate on Gray's absence, including when asked specifically if it was due to a compliance issue.
Tennessee has had 16 scholarship players enter the portal since Dec. 1. Eleven of the players started for Tennessee in 2020 and 13 had started during their Vols career.
Gray is the seventh Vol to transfer to a Power 5 school, joining Lawrence (Oklahoma), Morris (Oklahoma), quarterback J.T. Shrout (Colorado), outside linebacker Deandre Johnson (Miami), quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (Washington State) and running back Ty Chandler (North Carolina).
With Gray and Chandler gone, Tennessee's leading returning rusher is Jabari Small, who rushed for 117 yards.
Six Vols have entered the portal since Pruitt was fired amid an investigation that revealed sweeping recruiting violations within the football program. Chancellor Donde Plowman called the investigation's findings "stunning" based on the amount of violations and number of people involved.
Barely 48 hours after Pruitt was axed, Gray entered the portal on Jan. 20 — one of four Vols to do so in a 27-minute span.
Peterson and Lawrence were the top-ranked recruits in their respective recruiting classes in the 247Sports Composite. Peterson was the No. 48 prospect in 2018.
Lawrence was the No. 81 prospect in the nation in the 2020 class out of Nashville Ensworth.
Crouch, Gray, Morris and To'o To'o were also among the top recruits Pruitt signed. They were ranked among Tennessee's top seven signees in the 2019 class, which ranked No. 13 in the nation.
Morris was the No. 28 prospect. To'o To'o was No. 44, Crouch No. 61 and Gray No. 184.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.