- position Defensive Backs Coach
- position Defensive Backs Coach
Torrian Gray begins his third season in Columbia. He was named the Gamecocks’ defensive backs coach on Jan. 15, 2021.
Gray, 48, has coached the secondary for 23 years, including 19 at the collegiate level and four in the NFL. He has developed a number of NFL defensive backs, including Brandon Flowers, Kam Chancellor, Kyle Fuller and Kendall Fuller at Virginia Tech and Teez Tabor, Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson, Duke Dawson and C.J. Henderson at Florida. Gamecock defensive backs Cam Smith and Darius Rush were both invited to the 2023 NFL Combine.
In his first season with the Gamecocks, Carolina surrendered 180.8 yards per game through the air, the fewest since 2011. They ranked first in the SEC and seventh in the nation in passing yards allowed per game. They intercepted 15 passes, tying for second in the SEC lead and tied for 14th in the country. Safety Jaylan Foster earned second-team All-America and first-team All-SEC honors after leading the team with 96 tackles and five interceptions. His five interceptions tied for fourth in the country. Cornerback Cam Smith defended 14 passes (3 interceptions and 11 breakups). His 1.3 passes defended per game ranked second in the SEC and ninth in the country.
In his second season in Columbia, the Gamecocks were solid again in pass defense, ranking 27th in the country in pass efficiency defense and 34th in passing defense, allowing just 206.7 yards per game through the air. Carolina intercepted 15 passes, which ranked first in the league and 14th in the nation, and scored two defensive touchdowns, both on interception returns in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against Notre Dame. Safety Nick Emmanwori earned true freshman All-America honors from several publications. Emmanwori was also named to the SEC All-Freshman team, while freshman DQ Smith was a third-team Freshman All-American according to CollegeFootballNews.
Gray spent the previous two seasons coaching the cornerbacks at the University of Florida, his second stint with the Gators. In his first year back in Gainesville in 2019, the Gators tied for ninth in the FBS with 16 interceptions on the season. Under Gray’s guidance, UF was one of only two FBS teams (FAU) to feature four players with at least three interceptions each. Additionally, Gray guided cornerbacks CJ Henderson (First Team) and Kaiir Elam (Freshmen Team) to All-SEC honors by the league’s coaches. Henderson later went on to be the ninth overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. In 2020, Elam earned first-team All-SEC honors.
Prior to his stint with the Gators, Gray worked with the defensive backs for the Washington franchise in the NFL. In 2017, his first season in Washington, Gray’s defensive backs helped produce the team’s strongest season against the pass in nearly a decade. The unit ranked third in the NFL in completion percentage allowed (57.6 percent), the team’s best ranking since leading the NFL in the category in 2005 (54.4), while finishing ninth in passing yards allowed per game (213.8, the team’s lowest since 2009) and 10th in opponent passer rating (81.0, lowest since 2008). One of his standout performers was former Gamecock D.J. Swearinger.
In 2016, Gray served as the defensive backs coach at Florida. Under Gray’s guidance, cornerback Teez Tabor earned first-team All-SEC honors from both the Associated Press and the league’s coaches while also garnering second-team All-American honors from numerous outlets. Gray also helped guide defensive back Quincy Wilson to second-team All-SEC honors.
Prior to his arrival in Gainesville, Gray spent a decade at his alma mater, Virginia Tech, leading some of the nation’s best defensive backfields. In his 10 seasons coaching the secondary in Blacksburg under head coach Frank Beamer, his unit allowed just 185.0 passing yards per game and a 106.5 opponent passer rating – both ranked second in the nation over that span. Opposing quarterbacks completed just 50.4 percent of their passes in those 10 seasons, the lowest percentage of any defense in the nation. The Virginia Tech secondary ranked in the top 15 nationally in opponent passer rating eight times in Gray’s 10 seasons leading the unit, including three top-five finishes.
During Gray’s tenure, a total of 11 Hokie defensive backs were selected in the NFL Draft.
In 2014, the Hokies had the fourth-best pass defense (189.2 ypg) in the Atlantic Coast Conference despite losing All-American Kendall Fuller early in the season due to injury. His unit allowed opponents to complete just 49.6 percent of their passes, second-best in the conference.
In 2006, his first year leading the group, they ranked first in the country in passing yards allowed per game (128.2) and second in opponent passer rating (91.3).
Before returning to Virginia Tech, Gray spent two seasons in the NFL as assistant defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears from 2004-05. In 2005, Gray’s unit helped the Bears rank fifth in the NFL in passing defense and finished tied for second in interceptions (24) as defensive backs Nathan Vasher and Mike Brown both earned Pro Bowl selections.
Gray began his coaching career at the University of Maine, serving as defensive backs coach for two seasons from 2000-01. He then spent the 2002-03 seasons as defensive backs coach at the University of Connecticut. During his time with the Huskies, he coached cornerback Justin Perkins, helping him to two all-conference selections and 12 career interceptions.
Following a standout career at Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Fla., Gray played collegiately at Virginia Tech and became a three-time all-conference selection. He helped lead the Hokies to a pair of conference titles and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round (49th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft. He spent three seasons with the Vikings before retiring after a career-ending knee injury in the spring of 2000.
A native of Lakeland, Fla., Gray has two daughters, Tori and Lexi.
THE TORRIAN GRAY FILE
• Hometown: Lakeland, Fla.
• High School: Kathleen (Fla.) HS, ’91
• College: Virginia Tech, ’96
• Children: daughters Tori and Lexi
PLAYING CAREER (CORNERBACK)
• Virginia Tech (1992-96)
• Minnesota Vikings (1997-99)
• 2000-01: Maine (Defensive Backs)
• 2002-03: UCONN (Defensive Backs)
• 2004-05: Chicago Bears (Assistant Defensive Backs)
• 2006-15: Viginia Tech (Seconadry)
• 2016: Florida (Defensive Backs)
• 2017-18: Washington Redskins (Defensive Backs)
• 2019-20: Florida (Cornerbacks)
• 2021-23: South Carolina (Defensive Backs)