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Tennessee has a few different options at running back. Ty Chandler would seem to be the likely starter going into spring practice.

How Tennessee’s running back situation could play out in 2018

SEC Country reporter Blake Morgan will candidly answer your Tennessee sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @BlakeMorganSEC, Tennessee Insiders Facebook page or by email to Blake at

On my weekly Facebook Live video, we got into a discussion about how the running back situation will shake out this season. I liked Dale’s comment about the situation.

Offensive coordinator Tyson Helton’s new pro-style offense will make running back one of the most-used positions. He wants the Vols to be a power running team that can pick up a first down with a run on third-and-short even with the defense anticipating it.

John Kelly, the leading rusher last season, would have been a good fit in the offense. He decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

This leaves sophomore Ty Chandler as the likely starter heading into spring practice. Chandler has big-play ability and when he gets to the second level he’s a threat to take the ball to the end zone.

Chandler rushed for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns in mostly relief duty in 2017. His lone start against Kentucky yielded 22 carries for 120 yards and both of his touchdowns.

The only problem is his size. At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds he has a frame more suited for a spread offense. His game is better suited for space, not pounding the ball between the tackles.

Tennessee will almost surely have to rotate running backs to keep Chandler healthy. This is where signee Jeremy Banks comes in. The Cordova, Tenn., native probably will start the season behind Tim Jordan. My prediction is he won’t stay there for long.

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At 6-2, 220 pounds, Banks is the ideal power back in Helton’s system. He also has a terrific work ethic, which I believe will help set him apart.

Banks didn’t really play until he was a senior in high school. He told me he worked every night, even when the lights went out, to get better. It culminated with nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns.

Tennessee offered and closed the recruitment with Banks in about 10 days. It might be coach Jeremy Pruitt’s most underrated impact pickup of the 2018 class.

Chandler and Banks won’t be the featured duo in the backfield to start the season. They have the potential to develop into a nice “Thunder and Lighting” pair in their careers.

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