KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us at SEC Country for the latest recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers.
With Jeremy Lewis leaving the team last month, Tennessee currently has just three scholarship tailbacks on the roster — and redshirt junior Alvin Kamara is widely believed to be off to the NFL after the Music City Bowl against Nebraska.
John Kelly continues to assume a larger leadership role, and the rising junior is expected to be the No. 1 ‘back next season.
Still, the Vols would prefer to sign a third tailback for the 2017 Class, shoring up depth for both next year and the future.
Right now, the question is how committed is Tennessee to taking a third tailback? Numbers are super tight. The Vols already have 25 commits with maybe 27 spots in the class. Cam Akers is a no-brainer take, but what about Travis Etienne or Darrian Felix? Tennessee has kicked the tires on Timothy Jordan, too.
Regardless, some tough decisions will be made in the coming weeks. For now, here’s a better look at the four remaining running back options.
* 5-star Cam Akers
The nation’s No. 4 overall prospect is a fantastic athlete, playing mainly ‘Wildcat’ quarterback for his Clinton (Miss.) High team. He totaled more than 5,200 yards as a senior, accounting for 65 touchdowns. Akers isn’t Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook, but he still projects as an all-conference player in college.
His recruitment has been wild, with plenty of twists and turns. Formally an Alabama commit, Ole Miss, LSU, Ohio State, Florida State and even Tennessee all felt good about its chances at one point or another this fall.
It’s shaping up to be an FSU vs. LSU battle, with Tennessee lingering in the background. If Akers decides to delay announcing at the Army All-American Game then the Vols could climb back up the ranks.
* 4-star Travis Etienne
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Louisiana native is ranked as the nation’s No. 18 tailback. He holds more than two dozen offers, with Texas A&M, Oregon and Tennessee rounding out his Top 3.
A former Aggies commit, Etienne rushed for 40 touchdowns as a junior and is likely to stay with Texas A&M when it’s all said and done. He will officially visit Tennessee sometime in January, possibly the weekend of the 13th.
* 3-star Darrian Felix
The Sunshine State native is ranked the No. 7 all-purpose back in the country. Felix is a 5-foot-11, 194-pound speedster, possessing similar skills as Kamara.
He’s not as developed in the passing game, but the potential is there. The Fort Myers (Fla.) product has taken official visits to Tennessee, North Carolina and Oregon. Felix bonded with fellow Fort Meyers native and Vols linebacker commit Shanon Reid on their official visit together in November. The two Floridians played in the FACA All-Star Classic together last weekend, too.
However, North Carolina seems to hold the edge for Felix.
* 2-star Timothy Jordan
The Bartow (Fla.) product is an emerging name late in the process. The 6-foot, 185-pound tailback doesn’t even have a recruiting page at Rivals. He’s ranked No. 2,533 nationally by the 247Sports Composite and has been committed to Western Kentucky for the last month.
Still, Tennessee, as well as Florida, Iowa State and others, have started to really look at the unknown tailback.
Jordan is certainly a backup option after Akers, Etienne and Felix, but Tennessee extended an offer on Dec. 7, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Jordan visited in January.
— Bartow Football (@BartowFootball) December 7, 2016