KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Trey Coleman said he had an idea he would be committing to Tennessee last weekend, but he had no idea what coach Butch Jones had in store for him.
“I’ll always remember that orange carpet,” said Coleman, one of eight prospects who committed to the Vols on the historic afternoon. “I thought ‘Orange Carpet’ was just a name for the recruiting (event), but there really was an orange carpet you walked down.
“We didn’t know anything about it, but we walk in, and there’s a DJ there going crazy, and then Coach Jones is right there, and the next thing I know I’m doing some interview.”
The interview was with a UT staff member — the event was closed to the media — and games and contests followed throughout the afternoon.
Coleman, now 6-foot-1 and 213 pounds at West Monroe (La.) High School, visited for Tennessee’s “Junior Day” on March 5.
“I wanted to come up again and make sure they still have all that love and passion for me,” Coleman said. “As far as picking Tennessee, you are evaluating what type of back you are and how your style relates to the programs.
“Tennessee likes to put their backs in space, not just a straight hand-off team. So they’ll run screens, some read options and I really like the handoffs out of the shotgun (formation).”
Coleman said he’s more confused than disappointed with his recruiting rating: The 247sports Composite lists him at three stars. He is also ranked the class of 2017’s No. 42 prospect from Louisiana.
“Yeah, those ratings must not be updated, because I’m the top back in this state,” Coleman said. “Rankings matter, but only to a point.
“I think I’m a versatile back, because I’ve got the speed when I need it, and I can also get those two tough yards.”
Coleman said he envisions having an opportunity to play as a true freshman, though he knows there will be plenty of competition ahead.
“I look at it like Jalen (Hurd) could leave after this season, and Alvin (Kamara) is a great back that could leave, too,” Coleman said. “If they leave, that puts me in position to compete. I know there’s an incoming freshman (Carlin Fils-aime), and then (John) Kelly.”
Coleman rushed for more than 1,400 yards last season, averaging 7.8 yards per carry.
Arkansas, Mississippi State and Iowa State all offered Coleman scholarships, and he said LSU was talking to him but “never pulled the trigger.”
The Vols could sign another tailback in the 2017 class, but Coleman said the competition would be fine with him.
“The way I look at it, you can’t just do it every snap, and when the primary guy is out you need another great guy in there,” Coleman said. “You look at defenses and they’re rotating four or five guys every other play, so everyone is looking to stay fresh.”