KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jalen Hurd would benefit from a second chance at Tennessee, and the Vols could really use Hurd’s running and pass-catching talents this season.
That doesn’t mean Hurd will come back and ask Butch Jones for a second chance, nor are there any guarantees that the Vols would take in the talented multi-dimensional skill player after he left the team midseason of 2016.
But it sure would be convenient for both parties, and that’s part of the discussion on today’s podcast with SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Hurd has yet to find a scenario that fits his needs, but a second chance in Knoxville might be exactly what’s best for everyone.
America loves a good comeback, and life is all about second chances.
Tennessee has only two scholarship tailbacks in camp, with talented runner Ty Chandler coming in to compete with junior John Kelly and sophomore Carlin Fils-aime.
The Vols would need Hurd for his pass-catching abilities as much as anything else — what a safety valve for a young quarterback!
Everyone’s covered? Drop it off to Hurd, who could run routes out of the backfield, the slot or an H-Back position.
Hurd had 67 catches for 492 yards during his time with the Vols and would be the second-best receiving option (behind NFL talent Jauan Jennings) the minute he returned to campus.
Hurd’s running skills — 2,635 career yards, 4.5 yards per carry — are legit. Hurd can be an NFL running back if he demonstrates the right attitude and hunger.
There’s a new offensive coordinator at Tennessee with Larry Scott, and there’s a veteran offensive line coming back that would be able to give Hurd all the running room he needs when the Vols called his number.
If you’re Hurd, there are several advantages to coming back, most notably the ability to play right away instead of sitting out a season at an FBS school or dropping down a classification.
Returning to the Vols would also enable Hurd to repair some of the concerns about attitude that NFL teams have — because surely, there would be provisions for Hurd to return.
Jones didn’t blast Hurd when the Nashville area product left the team, and the Hurd camp was reasonable under the circumstances.
OK, so Hurd wanted to run more out of the I-formation and was under the impression that would happen.
Fact is, the offensive line was terrible the first half of last season and Hurd was frustrated by an offense that was forced to rely heavily on Josh Dobbs’ play-making.
Things were clearly not handled correctly for it to get to the point that Hurd left the team.
But that was then, and this is now, and why wouldn’t this be an option on the table?
This is not going to be a player-coached Tennessee team like last season, when Jones allowed his established stars control over how hard and how often they worked.
The 2017 Vols are much more of a blue-collar group with several young players intent on proving themselves, and Hurd would have to fall in line.
Hurd returning to UT is a scenario that’s completely hypothetical at this point.
But it’s a scenario that, under the best circumstances, would make sense for the Vols and Hurd.