KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has gone from featuring one of the most dynamic offensive backfields in the nation to having one of the most unproven.
Tennessee Football RB Overview
Rising junior John Kelly returns to the Vols and is expected to win the starting tailback duties after his 630 yards and gaudy 6.4 yards-per-carry average last season.
Kelly is straight out of the tough-guy mode, a 5-foot-9, 212-pounder grinder who has proven capable of running over defenders as well as around them.
Sophomore Carlin Fils-aime didn’t see much work last season, but he’s another rising talent who provides versatility as a runner and receiver.
Tennessee Football RB By The Numbers
Kelly’s sophomore performance was impressive down the stretch, as he also showed a nose for the end zone, scoring five touchdowns — three in the final month and bowl game.
If there’s a hole in Kelly’s game it’s that he has not proven he can be a receiving threat, as he had just six catches for 51 yards last season.
Fils-aime was undersized at 175 pounds last season, but the speedy prospect from Naples, Fla. managed to average 4.1 yards per carry and score two touchdowns on his 14 attempts.
Unfortunately, the most notable play of his career to this point was running the wrong way and colliding with Josh Dobbs against South Carolina, forcing a pivotal fumble in the costly loss.
Tennessee Football RB Moving Forward
Kelly’s toughness aside, there’s some question as to whether he would be durable to handle the heavy run load the Vols look to have this season with a first-year quarterback.
Fils-aime will surely grow bigger, but Tennessee will no doubt provide opportunities for incoming freshmen backs to contribute.
Nashville’s Ty Chandler is the highest rated of the incoming backs.
It is possible, however, that Louisiana product Trey Coleman or Florida runner Timmy Jordan could challenge for playing time, as well.
Tennessee Football RB Standout Performer
John Kelly will have an opportunity to be a feature back in the SEC. Kelly is one of the most popular players on the team, and he could be on course for a role as a captain.
Projected depth chart:
John Kelly (5-9, 212, Jr.)
Carlin Fils-aime (5-11, 175, So.)
Others competing to play:
Taeler Dowdy (6-1, 185, So.)
Jayson Sparks (5-11, 187, RS. Jr.)
Chip Omer (6-0, 200, So.)
Stedman Love (5-8, 178, So.)
Ty Chandler (5-11, 190, Tr. Fr., reports in May)
Trey Coleman (5-11, 215, Tr. Fr., reports in May)
Timmy Jordan (6-0, 190, Tr. Fr., reports in May)