The Tennessee Volunteers are easily one of the hottest programs on the 2014 recruiting trail right now, and their latest commitment from 5-star running back Jalen Hurd essentially solidifies that statement.
Hurd is without a doubt the marquee recruit of the Butch Jones era so far. If Jones keeps recruiting at this pace and with this efficiency, he won't be the last.
The 5-star running back took to Twitter to announce his decision:
Jalen Hurd @MrHurd_1
I have officially committed to play football at The University of Tennessee. #VFL #RiseToTheTop3/14/2013, 12:32:38 PM
Chris Brooks of The Tennessean reports on some of the reasoning behind his commitment:
Jalen Hurd wants to give his all for Tennessee.
The Beech High School standout running back made that clear Thursday morning when he committed to the Tennessee Volunteers, choosing to stay in his home state to play college football.
“I really wanted to go to UT,” Hurd said. “Last year, they weren’t in such a good position for me to go there, but with Coach (Butch) Jones and the new staff, I think it’s the best place for me to go.”
His commitment to Tennessee is absolutely huge for the Volunteers program, as Hurd possesses superstar potential as a running back. He's ranked as the No. 3 running back in the 2014 class, according to the 247Sports Composite.
More importantly for Jones and his staff, Hurd is the No. 1 player from the state of Tennessee (247Sports Composite). In-state recruiting is the backbone of any good program, so landing the best in-state player is a big statement for the Vols.
Hurd has tremendous size at 6'3'', 225 pounds, but he's also extremely athletic and has good speed. Like many of the elite backs in college football recruiting nowadays, Hurd has the size of an outside linebacker and the speed of a running back—and that's exactly how he plays.
He's an extremely strong runner that is always moving downhill with low pad level. He keeps his legs moving and will pick up the extra tough yards. That said, he displays great vision and a very good cutback move that allows him to find a new lane, and he has that proverbial "second gear" that allows him to run away from defenders. He runs with purpose and he'll be hard to take down, even in the SEC.
Hurd is also versatile enough to motion out into the slot and be an effective receiving option. He even has the ability to line up at wide receiver and be a vertical threat. His speed allows him to beat the defender deep and he can go up and high-point the ball like a true receiver.
He should be able to compete for time in 2014 at running back, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones utilize him at other positions just to get him on the field more. As previously mentioned, he could line up in the slot, and he has the speed, vision and elusiveness to be a very effective kick returner. Hurd is talented enough to eventually win the starting job at Tennessee.
When that does happen (and it will), he projects to be a star for the Volunteers.