SAN ANTONIO, Texas. — Tennessee has just a single commit at this week’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but the Vols would be hard-pressed to be represented by a better individual than 4-star tailback Ty Chandler.
After the Top-100 prospect rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 39 touchdowns to lead Montgomery Bell Academy to the state championship, Chandler has come to Texas, put his head down and worked. The humble, hulking tailback has split reps with a pair of 5-star runners, but Chandler has held his own.
He’s fit right in in Texas, especially considering his love for cowboy boots and the outdoors.
“I’m usually chilling outdoors. I’m an outdoors person, riding 4-wheelers, fishing,” the Nashville native said.
“I’m a pretty chill person. I don’t do too much, just hang with my buddies. My friends have like a 100 acres so we go out there and have some fun.
Earlier this week, Chandler discussed his time in San Antonio, as well as his commitment to the Vols, his role in 2017 and much more.
How has this week gone so far? Have you enjoyed working alongside Cam Akers and D’Andre Swift?
Chandler: “It’s been smooth, just learning some new things, trying to get adjusted to everything.
Overall, it’s been great. That’s a dangerous running back group we got there. They’re all great guys. I feel like we’re going to do some big things Saturday.”
When it was all said and done, why did you ultimately commit to Tennessee?
Chandler: “I felt like, ‘Why not Tennessee?’ It’s close to home. I have a great opportunity. I love the coaching staff up there. I feel like it’s the right spot for me. It felt like home. That’s why I’m sticking with it.”
Your dad Chico played at Ole Miss. How did he help you through this process?
Chandler: “My dad he always encouraged me. Even though he went to Ole Miss, I was kind of leaning that way early, but he encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. He kept pushing me. I picked Tennessee and I stuck with it. That’s where I’m going.”
When did you know you possessed elite talent and could compete among the very best nationally?
Chandler: “Around my sophomore year. I realized that I had potential to be one of the best if I wanted to. I just kept working hard for it and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve got a lot of people encouraging me, encouraging me to do the right thing. They tell me to keep working hard and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
With Alvin Kamara officially off to the NFL, how do you see your role at Tennessee in 2017?
Chandler: “I’m looking to go in and compete right off the bat. I know John Kelly. He’s a great guy. I’m going to look forward learning some things from him and all the other guys. I’m just looking to go in and compete. I love to compete. Love it. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
What are your strengths?
Chandler: “I consider myself more of a downhill runner, but I’m able to do some stuff in space. Just being versatile. I feel like I fit in with that offense and be able to do some things and learn to do some right things.”
How key was it for Tennessee to land 5-star OT Trey Smith in December?
Chandler: “It was very important. He’s a great player, but he’s an even better guy. I’m glad we got him on board. I’m looking forward to working with him and watching him develop as a player. I can’t wait to see how he grows and run behind him.”
Finally, what were your thoughts on Tennessee’s season?
Chandler: “They stumbled a little bit. There’s always adversity and stumbling. It happens. It’s part of the game. I feel like the coaching staff is going to do a great job. I’m trusting in them and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton