KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jalen Hurd’s departure from the Tennessee football program is more than a week old, but the shock effect has not worn off.
Hurd spiked the conversation late Sunday night when he released a statement via his Twitter account, essentially confirming what his mother and stepfather had relayed through their social media accounts.
Hurd basically said he wanted more opportunities in formations that would have showcased his skills, and he said had been battling injuries this season and had considered transferring for a while.
Here are three quick thoughts on Hurd’s decision and departure:
Everyone is better off
Hurd hadn’t met with media since the preseason, but his sideline demeanor and body language was at times that of a brooding superstar, even in practices when he wore a green no-contact jersey usually reserved for players recovering from surgery.
That’s not to say Hurd didn’t have reason to be disappointed. Tennessee’s offense has struggled behind inadequate line play, and at 240 pounds Hurd is no doubt better suited for the I-Formation.
It would only make sense if Coach Butch Jones planned to use the I-Formation this season with Hurd when given the right circumstances.
That said, the Vols’ coaches have to put team first, and this season has been a struggle of one come-from-behind game after another. Clearly, they believed their no-huddle, shotgun set was the preferred formation for comebacks.
Let it rest
Hurd finished his career No. 6 on Tennessee’s all-time rushing list and has much to do with the Vols’ ascent back into national relevancy.
It’s unfortunate Hurd’s misery came to the point where he felt leaving in the middle of a football season was best, and everyone directly involved shares some degree of blame.
Jones has proven to be a quick learner, and it’s safe to assume he’ll review the decisions he made where Hurd was concerned and trace them back to where things got off track.
Hurd, likewise, will learn a lesson from this experience moving forward and ultimately be the better for it as a person, even if his Vol For Life status has been somewhat tainted.
Hurd needs to surround himself with knowledgeable people and make a smart career decision. Can he play tailback in the NFL at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds?
In the preseason, Hurd said that playing running back is what’s in his heart, but he will need to get quicker and more elusive than he showed this season (last year he looked better) to be successful at the next level.
Hurd has excellent hands and agility for an athlete of his size, and the concept of him playing tight end or receiver isn’t as far-fetched as some might think.
Quitting on his team in the middle of the season will make teams skeptical of Hurd, but Arian Foster faced many of the same challenges and went on to NFL stardom after signing as a free agent.
Tennessee football has moved on without Hurd, with John Kelly quickly filling his shoes.
It will be a tougher road for Hurd, but not an impossible one for a player of his youth, talents and potential.
Barring injury, chances are Tennessee fans will be cheering for Hurd on NFL Sundays.