KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s new style of offense calls for hard-charging, blue-collar running backs. Michigan State graduate transfer Madre London fits the bill.
London, part of a three-man backfield platoon with the Spartans the past three seasons, announced Sunday he’s transferring to Tennessee after graduating from Michigan State on May 4.
“I like where Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt is taking the program,” London told SEC Country on Sunday night. “I know what Coach Pruitt is capable of from his days coaching at Alabama. The SEC is the top league in the nation week in and week out.
“I feel this move will enable me to elevate my level of play by going against the top players every week, and Tennessee is a good fit for me.”
London said he was also considering transfer opportunities to Georgia, Oregon, Southern Cal and Louisville.
Coming out of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas High School, London chose the Spartans over Nebraska and Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound London leaves Michigan State as one of the fans’ favorites, having contributed greatly to the Spartans’ program over his four years.
“I don’t regret any of my years here and I’ll always be a Spartan,” said London, who started the first six games of Michigan State’s 2015 Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff season. “I worked to leave a good impression with the fans and my coaches as a hard worker.”
London suffered a severely sprained ankle and sprained knee against Rutgers in 2015. He didn’t return to full speed until the Spartans’ 16-13 Big Ten title game victory over Iowa.
London helped launch the season with 18 carries for 103 yards in Michigan State’s 31-28 win over No. 7-ranked Oregon. It was the first time since 2006 that a Big Ten team had won a nonconference regular-season game against a top-10 opponent.
London was unable to regain a firm hold on the starting job the past two seasons, sharing the backfield with LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes.
Michigan State’s team chemistry was such that the backs got along well and pushed each other.
Indeed, London never complained about losing his job to injury, and he was constantly supportive of both Holmes and Scott on and off the field.
It’s likely Pruitt did his homework on London in that regard, as the Vols have had a healthy competition among their running backs and are now well-stocked for 2018.
London won’t have a problem adjusting to the hard-nosed style of practices that await him at Tennessee.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio runs a practice schedule similar to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who Dantonio coached under when Saban was the Spartans coach in the 1990s.
Pruitt has said he will emulate much of Saban’s blueprint, while mixing in things he learned playing for Gene Stallings at Alabama and coaching under Mark Richt at Georgia and Jimbo Fisher at Florida State.
“When they look back on Michigan State football a decade from now, I’ll be proud to say I was able to contribute to a Big Ten championship team and College Football Playoff team,” London said. “Now, I want to be a part of something special with Coach Pruitt at Tennessee.
“I know the expectations are high and I want to become one of Tennessee’s great players,” London said. “I want to be a part of the start of a great football era and win the SEC championship this season.”