Tag Archives: Jalen Hurd

After departure of Alden Hill, Vols still have plenty of options in backfield

Alden Hill goes through a drill this spring (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Running back Alden Hill announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the football program.

The third-year sophomore reserve would likely have found it tough to get reps in the increasingly crowded Tennessee backfield.

The Vols are likely to have five scholarship running backs on the roster in 2014, including seniors Marlin Lane and Devrin Young. Three true freshman, including early arrival Jalen Hurd, are also in the fold. Plus, the Vols have added depth from walk-ons Justus Pickett, Chris Beck and Deanthonie Summerhill.

The Vols have only 11 players remaining from the Class of 2012, the last group signed and recruited by Derek Dooley and his staff.

They are: defensive end LaTroy Lewis, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, linebacker Justin King, linebacker Kenny Bynum, quarterback Nathan Peterman, receiver Jason Croom, receiver Drae Bowles, receiver Cody Blanc and kicker George Bullock. Receiver Alton “Pig” Howard is currently on leave from the program and his future status is uncertain.

Unofficially, the Vols now have 83 players on scholarship.

Tennessee spring football: Catching up on video, photos and .gifs from Day 3

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Tennessee football doesn’t practice on Wednesday, and by the time the Vols return to action on Thursday, the temperature may have dropped from 72 to 32.

Bugs swarm around Haslam Field on Tuesday (photos by Evan Woodbery)

On a positive note, that might kill the bugs that plagued Tuesday’s practice. And, yes, I made a .gif of them, too.

For some much better photos, check out Adam Lai’s gallery here.

Butch Jones wasn’t entirely pleased with Tuesday’s practice, the first in full pads. He said some of the newcomers weren’t prepared for the pace. He called out one player for putting his hands on his hips — a big no-no in Jones’ world.

Beyond that, what conclusions can we draw through three practices — 20 percent of the spring total? Not a whole lot. All four quarterbacks are getting reps, and we’ve heard good things about Riley Ferguson. I would still be surprised if there’s a firm decision by the end of spring.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs throws a pass to Justus Pickett (photos by Evan Woodbery)

Running backs break down the huddle during practice (photo by Evan Woodbery)

Depth at the running back spot seems at least serviceable behind Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd. That’s a good thing because two more scholarship backs are arriving this summer.

Emmanuel Moseley (photos by Evan Woodbery)

In the secondary, coaches clearly like Emmanuel Moseley a lot and are grooming the freshman for a big role in 2014. He’s working as the “first team” cornerback now, with Justin Coleman working at nickel.

Long snapper Riley Lovingood — yes, a long snapper — is newest 2015 commitment

Butch Jones, adding a brick.

Butch Jones, adding a brick.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s becoming more and more common to see long snappers earn scholarships.

But adding one almost a year before National Signing Day is more unusual.

Even so, the Vols opted to accept a verbal commitment on Saturday from Riley Lovingood, a junior from Beech High in Hendersonville. (That’s Jalen Hurd‘s alma mater). Lovingood is considered one of the nation’s top snappers and his ties to Tennessee make him unlikely to waiver.

 

Coaching staffs are increasingly finding that it takes a scholarship to lure the nation’s top snappers.

Wesley Horky, who was all set to walk-on at Tennessee, was snatched up by Oklahoma just a week ago.

Matt Giampapa is the leading candidate to win the snapping job in 2014. Butch Jones has said that J.R. Carr‘s graduation leaves a large gap at the position — not just in snapping, but also overall special teams play. Carr had five tackles on special teams in 2013.

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Tennessee spring football 2014: The running backs

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With spring practice starting this week, we’re revisiting some of our projections from the post-season. Today: the running backs.

Rajion Neal celebrates with fans after the Vols beat Kentucky earlier this month (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s been nearly a decade since Tennessee had more rushing yards than the Vols did in 2013.

While that distinction may speak to the lack of a passing game in this year’s offense, it also speaks to the strength of the Vols’ experienced offensive line and running back duo.

The line will be gone in 2014, but veteran running back Marlin Lane will return. Instead of longtime partner Rajion Neal, Lane will be paired with true freshman Jalen Hurd, a five-star prospect who is expected to play an immediate role in the offense.

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Neal is the big loss off the 2013 roster. Reserve Tom Smith also parted ways with the program after the semester.

Smith did well in garbage time roles in 2013, but never threatened for meaningful playing time. Alden Hill seems likely to be in the same role and he must cement his value on special teams in order to be a factor moving forward.

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Vols signee Jalen Hurd ‘soft?’ So says a voice from Southern Cal’s war room

This video was still active as of Monday afternoon.

This video was still active as of Monday afternoon.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — On National Signing Day, recruiting war rooms are often open to the media.

Usually that only means manufactured celebrations for ESPN. Sometimes, however, the microphone can capture frank comments from staff members.

That’s what appears to have happened in the Southern California war room. The Trojans used their official Instagram feed to publicize each new player on National Signing Day.

In the video in question*, a staff member slaps the name of a new signee on the board as an ESPN broadcast buzzes in the background. The network is discussing Tennessee’s class, including Jalen Hurd, and later Jakob Johnson.

An off-camera voice at USC says, “Jalen Hurd is so soft and terrible. I don’t know why he (unintelligible).”

The Instagram video was removed on Monday afternoon and USC issued an apology on its Twitter account.

The identity of the voice is unknown, although most fans on Twitter seem to think it’s a certain Trojans’ assistant coach who once played at UT.

The Vols and Trojans aren’t likely to meet anytime soon. But Hurd, an elite running back prospect  from Hendersonville, Tenn., won’t have to look far for motivation in 2014.

After commitment of Derrell Scott, a look at Tennessee’s running back roster

Derrell Scott (247Sports)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — When Derrell Scott signs with Tennessee next week, the four-star running back will offer an important buffer in a backfield that was facing another year of being uncomfortably thin.

Yes, the Vols have returning veteran Marlin Lane. And yes, they do have two running back commitments, including five-star Jalen Hurd.

But Hurd and fellow incoming freshman Treyvon Paulk are both coming off season-ending injuries. While the Vols hope for big things out of Hurd, they didn’t want to enter the season without any other plans.

The running back rotation now looks positively brimming with options, and we could even see more of the two-back looks that the Vols started incorporating late in 2013.

Here’s what the roster might look like in 2014.

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For more, check out our complete 2014 commitment list and updated roster needs.

After new ratings, Josh Malone moves to top of Tennessee’s 2014 class

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Running back Jalen Hurd has been the highest ranked player in Tennessee’s 2014 class since he verbally committed to the Vols last March.

But a small tweak in the ratings has moved another in-state offensive star ahead of him. Receiver Josh Malone now has a 0.9818 rating in the 247Sports Composite, which combines the rankings of all major recruiting services into one poll. That’s just ahead of Hurd’s 0.9793 rating.

Hurd is no longer a consensus five-star player. He just misses the cutoff, ranked the 36th best player in the country according to the Composite index.

With recruiting in the home stretch, there are likely to be few if any changes between now and National Signing Day. Of the Vols’ 34 commitments, there are 15 four-star players and 19 three-star prospects.

In the newest update, in-state lineman Charles Mosley jumped up a couple of spots to 14th in UT’s class with an 0.8948 rating. Linebacker Kevin Mouhon moved down a tad and is now just below the four-star cutoff in the Composite. Cory Thomas moved ahead of two future teammates and is now the 23rd-rated prospect in the class.

Here’s the full list of UT verbal commitments.

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RB Derrell Scott’s decision on Monday could help ease Vols’ backfield worries

Derrell Scott (photo from News Sentinel partner 247Sports)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It was considered a given that Tennessee would add another running back in the Class of 2014.

The only question was if it would be a last-second fill-in who had been committed to a non-BCS school (think Jabo Lee from last year) or one of the Vols’ top targets?

On Monday, Tennessee will find out if running back Derrell Scott of Havelock, N.C., is the answer to their running back questions.

The four-star, 5-foot-11, 180-pound all-purpose back will choose between the Vols, South Carolina and Florida.

Scott has said the Gators are in third place, meaning the decision will come down to the two teams that have recruited him the longest — the Vols and Carolina.

Based on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, momentum seems to be swinging in Tennessee’s direction. Butch Jones and Steve Spurrier will have dueling in-home visits this week.

Why would Scott’s commitment be important? The Vols are losing two scholarship backs from the already thin 2013 squad. Both of the newcomers already in the class — Jalen Hurd and Treyvon Paulk — are coming off serious injuries. Hurd is expected to be an impact player, but the Vols would prefer a greater margin for error. Scott would provide it.

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Tennessee football position preview: Running backs will lean on Marlin Lane, Jalen Hurd

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The second in a series of position-by-position reviews of the Tennessee football team with an eye toward the start of spring practice in three months.

Rajion Neal celebrates with fans after the Vols beat Kentucky earlier this month (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s been nearly a decade since Tennessee had more rushing yards than the Vols did in 2013.

While that distinction may speak to the lack of a passing game in this year’s offense, it also speaks to the strength of the Vols’ experienced offensive line and running back duo.

The line will be gone in 2014, but veteran running back Marlin Lane will return. Instead of longtime partner Rajion Neal, Lane will likely be paired with true freshman Jalen Hurd, a five-star prospect who is expected to play an immediate role in the offense.

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Neal is the big loss off the 2013 roster. Reserve Tom Smith also parted ways with the program after the semester.

Smith did well in garbage time roles in 2013, but never threatened for meaningful playing time. Alden Hill seems likely to be in the same role and he must cement his value on special teams in order to be a factor moving forward.

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A look at Tennessee recruiting at midpoint of 2013 season

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The recruiting class committed in August is rarely the same one that signs in February, and the defection of a prospect this week is the first sign of it.

The Vols seem to have lost junior college receiver Eric Lauderdale, a Georgia native now playing juco ball in California.

Lauderdale had just picked up an offer from Florida and is intrigued by the prospect of being a Gator. Tennessee has four committed receivers in its 2014 signing class and is likely to add at least one more, so Lauderdale’s departure won’t hurt from a numbers standpoint. Whether the Vols miss his future production won’t known for years, as is often the case in recruiting.

The Vols are coming off a big recruiting weekend, are at the midpoint of the 2013 season and finally get a break on Saturday. So it’s a good time to review the Vols’ 2014 recruiting outlook.

Who’s in the fold: The Vols have 24 verbal commitments. They can sign 29 — I think — by “back-counting” some early enrollees.

Running back Jalen Hurd is the prize of the class and the only consensus five-star, although safety Todd Kelly and linebacker Dillon Bates are very close to that designation.

See the sheet above for the full list of commitments.

Where are they from? Interestingly, the geographic midpoint of the 2014 class sits in Ten Mile, Tenn., only about 45 miles southwest of Neyland Stadium. So the geographic diversity of the class is spread fairly evenly.

Five of the commitments are from Tennessee; five are from Georgia; Texas, Florida, Ohio and Maryland have two each.

What do they play? In keeping with Butch Jones’ goal of increasing the team’s overall speed, many of the prospects fall into the “athlete” category, so there’s some flexibility in their college position.

Using our best guess, there are five linebackers, five defensive backs and four receivers, two running backs, two tight ends, three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen. And a kicker.

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What do the Vols still need? To answer this question, I broke the usual “roster needs” chart into deeper categories. The “goal” in the first column is flexible and not meant to be set in stone. But it provides a good ballpark estimate.

This chart also includes a “new column” for non-contributors. This is for players who, because of injuries or other reasons, seem unlikely to break into the playing rotation in the future.

The chart shows only one pressing need left for the Vols’ 2014 class — defensive tackle. UT might also like to snag another offensive lineman.

So who’s still on the board? Lots of players. Even though there are officially only five spots left in the class, plenty can change in four months. Here are a few names to watch:

Four-star defensive tackle Charles Mosely of Brighton visited Knoxville this weekend and would be an important addition to the class.

Another in-state prospect, Josh Malone of Gallatin, is an elite receiver prospect. He visited Knoxville this weekend, too.

Twins Evan and Elliott Berry — would provide a boost in the secondary.