KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — #STATEment is right.
When Tennessee landed talented tailback Ty Chandler on Monday, the Volunteers addressed three major priorities in one fell swoop.
Chandler, a 4-star product from the prestigious Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, fills a key need at running back, as the nation’s No. 6 running back is poised to seamlessly slide into the potential vacancies left by Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara in 2017.
Chandler’s commitment also gives Tennessee’s Class of 2017 a much-needed boost of star power, and is a huge in-state win for coach Butch Jones, who aims to flip a recent narrative of too many top prospects leaving the Volunteer State.
— Butch Jones (@UTCoachJones) August 15, 2016
Chandler is stud, rushing for 2,558 yards and 31 touchdowns for Big Red in 2015. The 5-foot-11, 194-pound blue-chipper earned Tennessee Mr. Football honors and will play in the Army All-American Game.
Just as importantly, the Vols added another prospect with outstanding character.
“He’s a special, special player,” MBA coach Marty Euverard told SEC Country.
“But first and foremost, he’s a great kid. Character wise, he’s always been a humble kid. He’s always been a servant leader. He isn’t flashy and doesn’t talk a whole lot. He’s just more about working hard.”
Chandler committed in a Facebook Live announcement with 247Sports, telling Euverard he “just wanted to focus on the season.” MBA opens against Hewitt-Trussville on Friday.
“I’m very proud of him, the way he’s handled all this since his freshman year,” Euverard explained.
“He was offered his freshman year. He was special as a freshman. … He doesn’t like to draw a lot of attention to himself. He just plays hard. He loves the game and loves to be a teammate. He started for four years here. The respect he has in this MBA community and with his teammates, he’s never been bigger than the program. Which somebody with his talent could very easily go that way.”
Ultimately, the Volunteers landed a blue-collar kid with white-collar skills.
Although Chandler isn’t “worried about the fanfare,” the hullabaloo will come if he gashes SEC defenses. The Top-100 prospect has the size, speed and natural instincts to be a bellcow ‘back for Tennessee. He can return kicks and pass protect, too.
“He’s very talented. Strong,” Euverard said.
“He plays a lot bigger than his size. He’s a very powerful runner, fast, great vision. He can catch the ball as good as any (receiver). He’s just a natural athlete playing football. He’s got a great football mind, sense. He has a lot of savvy.”
Chandler can easily add 10-15 pounds to his frame, and Euverard chuckled when asked if Chandler could make an immediate impact for UT next fall.
“We play in a pretty good league and he started as a freshman here and arguably was the one of the top players on the field as a freshman. It’s another level, but he definitely handled it in high school.”
Chandler chose Tennessee over Ole Miss, despite his father Chico playing for the Rebels. Chandler’s parents encouraged their son to make his own decision, though, and representing his state-school was simply an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It’s been a fun ride, but he felt like Tennessee was the place for him to be,” Euverard said.
“He wanted to get it out of the way and focus on school. I was really proud of him say he wanted to focus on school first, and then football.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Jesse Simonton covers Tennessee football and recruiting for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and SECCountry.com