KNOXVILLE — Instead of heading south toward his hometown, former Tennessee cornerback Daniel Gray is trekking nearly 1,800 miles west.
Less than a week after leaving the Volunteers program before his sophomore season, Gray is transferring to Utah State, according to a post on his Facebook page.
Though Logan is roughly 2,500 miles from Gray's hometown of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., two of of the defensive back's former teammates (senior receiver Travis Reynolds and sophomore wideout Bruce Natson) at Boyd Anderson High School play for the Aggies.
"For the next 3 years I will be taking my talents to the university of Utah state," Gray posted on Wednesday. "God is good and I'm very thankful for him. Never through [sic] I would be playing college ball with my best friend JoJo Natson. Lauderdale better believe ima put on for my city. #NFL2016 draft here I come."
The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder made six tackles in eight appearances as a freshman, but he struggled in his lone start against Troy. A three-star player out of high school the Vols signed to help their speed in the secondary, Gray played only two years of organized football in high school. Some personal issues reportedly raised questions about his future at Tennessee, and he wasn't much of a factor during Tennessee's first spring practice under first-year coach Butch Jones.
Gray's departure and the uncertainty surrounding fifth-year senior Eric Gordon's future at Tennessee have thinned out Tennessee's already thin group of defensive backs.
Jaron Toney, a former walk-on tailback, and Max Arnold, a walk-on who took an interception back for a touchdown in the spring game, are the Vols' top two nickelbacks, and incoming freshmen Malik Foreman and Cameron Sutton may have to provide depth behind likely starters Justin Coleman and Riyahd Jones, a junior-college transfer who missed the last part of spring with an MCL injury.
Gray is also the eighth player from Tennessee's 23-player 2012 signing class -- the last under former coach Derek Dooley -- that's already left the program.
Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore entered April's NFL draft after one season, though only Patterson was drafted. Cornerback Deion Bonner and defensive linemen Dante Phillips and Trent Taylor left Tennessee in the winter after encountering disciplinary problems last fall. Tailback Davante Bourque lasted less than a week of August training camp before transferring to Pearl River (Miss.) Community College, and fellow tailback Quenshaun Watson abruptly left Tennessee after running for 73 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in 2012.
Punter transferring in
Former Wyoming punter Tim Glesson posted on his Twitter account Wednesday he intended to transfer to Tennessee.
"Happy to announce that the University of Tennessee will be where I'm heading" the native of Melbourne, Australia, tweeted. "A rich history with a football program on the rise #govols."
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, who has a background in Australian rules football, averaged 43 yards on 62 punts, pinned 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line and booted 13 punts 50 or more yards for the Cowboys as a freshman last season.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen told the Casper Tribune last month he expected Gleeson to finish the semester and return to Australia for "personal reasons."
Members of Tennessee's coaching staff were at the SEC headquarters in Birmingham on Wednesday attending an orientation for the league's new coaches. ... Tennessee's softball team, seeded seventh overall in the NCAA tournament, begins regional play against Longwood in Knoxville on Friday night. North Carolina State and James Madison are also in the regional, which is a double-elimination format. The Lady Vols likely would host Alabama next weekend should the Crimson Tide also advance. ... Tennessee will try to snap a seven-year absence from the SEC baseball tournament in a three-game series with Texas A&M in Knoxville beginning tonight. To earn the final spot in the 12-team tournament in Hoover next week, the Vols and second-year coach Dave Serrano must win one more game this weekend than Missouri, which hosts Kentucky, or sweep the Aggies and hope for a sweep in the Wildcats-Tigers series. Tennessee, which had two home games against last-place Georgia washed out by rain two weeks ago, last made the tournament in 2007.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...