Jalen Hurd transferred from Tennessee a year later than he originally intended.
The ex-Vols running back nearly left the program after a 24-20 loss to Arkansas last season, according to his stepfather, Arthur Smotherman.
Smotherman went on a Facebook Live rant regarding his son’s decision to transfer earlier on Tuesday, but later conducted a phone interview with The Read Optional’s Trey Wallace to discuss Hurd’s decision.
“He’s a 20-year old with emotion. He’s frustrated and feels like that he didn’t get the looks he was supposed to get,” Smotherman told Wallace. “And what I mean like that is Jalen wanted to leave after the Arkansas game last year, and we begged him to stay. He felt like the offense was not built for him. He knew that Kamara was able and capable of coming in and playing behind him and playing in that position. If he was leaving Tennessee, he was leaving it in good shape. He knew that the offense would continue.
“He felt like he was making the best decision for him at that moment. We begged him to stay. We got in coach Jones and (running backs) coach Gillespie’s office and said, ‘Hey, we want Jalen to stay. We feel like it’s the best thing for his future.’ If we could look back in hindsight 20-20, we probably would have let him go ahead and leave because we did not realize that he was frustrated enough to walk out in the middle of the season.”
Despite all the rumors swirling around the Internet regarding Hurd’s decision to transfer in the middle of the season, Smotherman said it ultimately came down to scheme.
“They never promised us that they were going to change their system,” Smotherman said of Tennessee’s coaches. “They just said they were going to do some things for Jalen to help him showcase who he is. And I believe Jalen considered the I-formation one of those things and it never happened.
“The reason I believe they even took the I-formation to the (Outback) bowl game, which they never did at all last year because Jalen was preaching to them that ‘I need you to show me why (I should) stay.’ They put the I-formation in giving him the glimpse of what he felt this season would be like. I think the whole year he’s ran two plays from it and I don’t even think they handed him the ball. They just passed out of it.”
Hurd rushed for 2,638 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons with Tennessee, as well as collecting 492 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
“He had high expectations on the season because it was a draft year,” Smotherman said. “He did a lot of offseason work to prepare for this season, and he hasn’t been able to display who he is in this offense. I think that he’s mad at us also asking him to stay another year. We convinced him to stay another year and even so, the coaching staff he feels like this was the year they were supposed to have his best interest in heart, and if they had his best interest at heart, they would have ran more offenses that helped him get downhill and display who he is as a big running back. It didn’t happen and I think he feels like he’s had a lot of broken promises.”