Eric Gregory excited about Tuesday arrival in Fayetteville

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Monday, January 7, 2019
Eric Gregory
Eric Gregory

— A young man who committed to Arkansas sight unseen is now ready to live life to the fullest in Fayetteville for the next few years.

Razorbacks defensive end signee Eric Gregory (6-4, 277) of IMG Academy is one of nine early enrollees who will report to campus Tuesday and begin classes the following Monday.

“I am very excited to get to Arkansas,” Gregory said. “I am ready for this next experience in my life. I want to get better as a player, as a person and just learn from the D-line coaches and just help turn the program around with all the other recruits we have coming in.”

Gregory decommitted from hometown Memphis on July 26 then chose Arkansas over LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Memphis and others.

He did so having never stepped foot on Arkansas’ campus, but feeling strong about his connection with Razorback defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell and defensive tackles coach John Scott Jr.

“They are great guys,” Gregory said. “They are really genuine, nice people that just don’t think about football only. They want to see me succeed in school and in life and better yourself from when you begin school there. I really appreciate that.”

Gregory joins fellow defensive ends Zach Williams (6-4, 235) and Mataio Soli (6-3, 230), cornerback Greg Brooks, Jr., (5-11, 178), junior college offensive linemen Chibueze Nwanna (6-7, 315) and Myron Cunningham (6-6, 300) and wide receivers Trey Knox (6-5, 218) and Shamar Nash (6-1, 195), Gregory’s teammate at Memphis Central and IMG.

Searcy offensive lineman Drew Vest (6-5, 290) is a preferred walk-on who is also enrolling early.

“I am excited about the chance to get in and develop my body in the offseason strength and conditioning, get in the playbook, learn how to play with the other defensive line guys coming in and those that are there and just putting myself in the best position to help next season and try to get on the field early,” Gregory said.

Arkansas’ recruiting class is ranked 12th nationally by Rivals despite the team going just 2-10 last season in coach Chad Morris’ first season.

“I think our group is going to be the beginning of the turnaround,” Gregory said. “We will need to add some more talent in the next few years, but this season’s class is going to be the start of big things.”

Gregory realizes being able to play college football is more than just about getting it done on the field.

“I am just looking forward to the football really, getting coached, meeting the players and getting ready for next season,” Gregory said. “I wouldn’t say I am too excited about the classes, but you have got to do what you have got to do to be able to play football, so I will put forth a tremendous effort to do well there also.”

Gregory made the move from Memphis Central to IMG Academy for his senior season and found talent everywhere around him and he believes he grew up.

“I certainly grew up some being away from my parents and also think I developed as a player by learning from different coaches,” Gregory said. “I think it helped me diversify my game in football, just like learning different things in school.”

As a junior at Memphis Central he had 56 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.

Gregory had 17 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry as IMG went 7-1 while rotating players who played about half a game.

Caldwell mentioned when Gregory signed that he would be able to help other freshmen when they arrive.

“He’s going to be that kind of role model that can help (freshmen) get through that first semester away from home,” Caldwell said. “It’s not always as easy as you think it’s going to be.

“ … We were down and watched him play Hoover one night down in Alabama, and just to watch him come off the edge … he was very well-coached down there. Just maturity-wise, I think he’s going to be ahead of a lot of the guys.”

Gregory believes being around great talent every day and the discipline provided helped him at IMG.

“I also think it helped toughen me up by going against great players every day that are going to play college football next season,” Gregory said.

“It also helped me learn how to manage my time better as in the best time to do my homework, rest and do the things that will allow me to be the best student and performer on the field that I can be.”

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