Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee and running back signee Jeremy Banks as well as the position in general.
Jeremy Banks a perfect fit
Tennessee will take on one running back in the Class of 2018, and what a running back he is. Jeremy Banks played for Cordova (Tenn.) High School and was recruited by Tennessee for only about 10 days before he signed with the Vols during the Dec. 20-22 early signing period.
Vols running back coach Robert Gillespie spoke high praises of the running back at the Tennessee Theatre.
“This kid is driven to be great,” Gillespie said. “He’s 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and I’ll tell you what, when you watch his film, he’s a tough kid. Had a chance to work him out in a camp over in Memphis last year, he was a great competitor.”
Banks fits in seamlessly with the pro-style approach the Vols want to run under offensive coordinator Tyson Helton. Tennessee wants to be a physical running team, like Alabama or Georgia. The goal is to have the defense know a running play is coming and still get the first down anyway.
Banks ability to run between the tackles is what drew the coaching staff to him. Expect Tennessee to target big, powerful backs like this into the future. The hope is to be good enough on the offensive line to open up holes to get the running backs into the second and third level. This is where Banks and future backs his size will have a big advantage against smaller defensive backs.
Banks will one day be a fan-favorite in Knoxville. He’s a tough runner who has the desire to pick up extra yards after contact. His attitude also makes Gillespie really excited about him coming to Rocky Top.
“He wants to be first in every drill,” Gillespie said. “He always asked the coaches how he can get better and that’s what you want. You want a guy who has the talent but is also driven and pushed to be the best he can be.”
Banks rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 32 touchdowns this past season. He was hardly known coming into his senior season. Banks told me being overlooked only fueled him to push himself harder every day and become a better player. This quality should come in handy for him at Tennessee.
This might be coach Jeremy Pruitt’s biggest regret. The coaching staff clearly wanted to add another running back this cycle. There was one waiting to come to Knoxville too.
Anthony Grant committed to Tennessee during the summer. He even stuck with his commitment to the Vols through the coaching search which saw a number of prospects turn away.
The Vols slow-played Grant’s recruitment. They kept him around but openly courted other prospects at the position. When it became clear those prospects were leaning elsewhere, Tennessee came back to Grant. It was too late, however, and Grant had begun to lean toward a flip, which he did on National Signing Day, to Florida State.
Pruitt would probably like to re-do Grant’s recruitment if he could. There isn’t necessarily a huge need to add two running backs in this class, but that certainly seemed to be the goal.
How matters stand with the current roster
Returning starter John Kelly decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. That leaves the running back position a little thinner than probably anticipated.
Rising junior Carlin Fils-aime showed some flashes last season. But he doesn’t seem more than a solid SEC backup.
Rising sophomore Ty Chandler seems primed for a breakout season. Out of everyone returning on the offense, I believe Chandler has the most star potential. Every time Chandler touches the football he is a threat to take the ball to the end zone. He is a dark horse All-SEC selection next season.
The Vols also have rising sophomore Tim Jordan, who showed he is a capable runner too.
Banks promised me in December people would “see him on TV” next season. I really love that confidence, but he might have to wait a season or two until that becomes a reality. Tennessee looks like they got a good running back in him, though.
In case you miss any in SEC County’s position breakdown series.
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