Dudley E. Dawson is a reporter for Hawgs Illustrated. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Gregory believes 2019 recruiting class will transform Razorbacks
FAYETTEVILLE Memphis native, IMG Academy defensive end and Arkansas 2019 pledge Eric Gregory knows the Razorbacks football program is in a rebuild.
Gregory (6-3, 260) feels he can do something to help that on the field next season and he thinks the 2019 recruiting class - currently ranked 17th nationally by Rivals - will go a long way in helping that regard.
“I believe in the Arkansas coaches and I talk with them once or twice a week,” Gregory said. “I know there is a lot of work to do to get to where we need to be, but I think our class is one that can really get that going.”
Gregory, who chose Arkansas over Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee and South Carolina among others, is one of seven four-star prospects in the 2019 Razorback class per Rivals - along with fellow Memphis native and IMG wide receiver Shamar Nash (6-1, 205).
“I've been talking to (Arkansas head) Coach (Chad) Morris and (Razorback defensive coordinator Coach (John) Chavis every week,” Gregory said. “I know those coaches can get me ready to play on the next level. Coach Chavis has done that for a lot of guys so that is certainly a factor. I am working on getting faster and getting more explosive so I can be that next guy for him.”
Both Nash and Gregory are taking their official visits to Arkansas on Oct. 5-7.
“I haven’t even visited (Fayetteville) yet,” Gregory said. “I’m coming up there Oct. 6 and I am just looking forward to visiting, but I am sure it is the place for me.”
Gregory was initially committed to hometown Memphis. He then reconsidered his decision after talking with Arkansas coaches, Nash and his family.
“I was committed to Memphis at first, but then I started talking to Shamar Nash - who is committed to Arkansas, too - and he was telling me what a good place it would be for me,” Gregory said. “I talked to his mom about it and talked to my family and the Arkansas coaches and decided it was the place for me.”
The Razorbacks coaches have told Gregory that he could line up at end, move inside to tackle or even be a stand-up linebacker depending on how he develops.
“They really like my versatility and think it will add a lot to their defense,” noted Gregory, one of 11 defensive commits. “I think we really have a lot of great defensive players coming in that will be ready to play right away and that can turn things around quickly.”
After getting routed in a preseason scrimmage, IMG - ranked third nationally by USA Today - is off to a 3-0 regular season start with Saturday’s game canceled due to Hurricane Florence and a game at Mater Dei coming up this weekend.
“As a team, we got humbled during the preseason game,” Gregory said. “We started working harder after that and everybody came together, got stuff clean and started winning games. We've won three in a row and hope to continue that against Mater Dei.”
The decision to leave Memphis for IMG was a tough one, but Gregory said it was made with his future in mind.
“I was getting good competition in Memphis, but I knew college was going to be way harder and I decided to come down here and practice and play against the best and get better,” Gregory said. “I wanted to learn from these coaches, who I knew were great.
“I think it is going real good for Shamar also. He’s catching the ball, but I also think he is really becoming a better blocker when he is out there on the field. He is getting more physical out there on the perimeter.”
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