FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Eric Gregory is competing for a starting spot and playing time on Arkansas’ defensive line.
Hopefully he has made as good impression all the coaches as he has two transfer linemen he’s competing with. Both John Ridgeway and Markell Utsey had great things to say about Gregory following Tuesday’s practice.
“I think he’s going to be really good,” Ridgeway said. “I didn’t know he was a sophomore. I was like, ‘Dude, you’re big. Dang.’ I was talking to him, because my locker’s right next to his. He’s quiet. He doesn’t really come out wanting to talk to you right away. I’ve been able to open him up a little bit and talk to him more and more each day. He’s a real good kid. He definitely has some stuff he can work on. But he’s definitely going to be a first-round draft pick if he keeps excelling the way he does in practice every day.”
If you had to name one or two things about Gregory that really stands out what would it be?
“He’s strong, and he’s fast, and he can be twitchy when he wants to,” Ridgeway said.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Gregory played in nine games last season with seven starts. He finished with 31 tackles, including 13 solo, three for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception, a quarterback hurry and one pass deflection. Utsey is also impressed.
“Me personally, I think he’s got a lot of room to grow,” Utsey said. “I think he’s going to be a real good player. Just watching him play every day, him wanting to learn and wanting to get better, I feel like that’s one of the biggest things with him. He wants to get better and he puts in the work. It’s nothing but the best to come for him, I feel like, if he plays hard, he focuses on his technique and things like that. I feel like the sky’s the limit for him.”
Jermial Ashley is set to coach Arkansas’ defensive line this fall. He too likes what he has seen from Gregory.
“Eric Gregory, he’s a unique guy that honestly can play the end or inside for us,” Ashley said. “The biggest thing for him is there’s a little bit more on his plate because he’s not just sitting inside all the time. Sometimes he’s on the edge. So, I think for him it’s just growing. He’s kind of getting double work, so he has to get the information and handle it from that stance.”