Jalen Hurd, one of the top running backs in the 2014 class, has committed to play college football at Tennessee, according to Chris Brooks of the Tennessean. He gives the Volunteers a dynamic option in the backfield with plenty of upside.
Hurd is rated as a 5-star prospect and the No. 3 overall running back by 247 Sports' composite rankings. The Tennessee native generated interest from across the nation before making his decision, which is no surprise given his potential.
He said the new coaching staff helped in his decision-making process.
"I really wanted to go to UT," Hurd said. "Last year, they weren’t in such a good position for me to go there, but with Coach (Butch) Jones and the new staff, I think it’s the best place for me to go."
He already possesses ideal size for a running back, checking in at 6'3'', 225 pounds. That's a key distinction because there are a lot of high school backs with great speed or terrific vision, but they simply don't have the necessary size to carry the load at the college level.
That won't be an issue for Hurd, who should be able to make an impact during his freshman campaign. He doesn't have elite speed, but he has enough to break free once he reaches the second level and isn't afraid of contact to pick up the tough yards.
Brooks went on to acknowledge Hurd's incredible accomplishments already as a runner, saying, "Hurd broke the TSSAA state single-season record for rushing yards in 2012 with 3,357 yards and 43 touchdowns despite missing the equivalent of nearly three full games."
Even though Hurd doesn't have the true breakaway speed coaches love from top prospects, he makes up for it with good reads and first-step agility. It allows him to identify a hole and bounce through it before the defense has a chance to fill it.
One thing that warrants watching is his height. At 6'3'', he's definitely in the range range for a running back and still has a little leeway. But if he hits another growth spurt, there's a chance he could outgrow the position, which is why he's also listed as an athlete.
It's not a major concern and clearly not one that was swaying top programs away from him during the recruiting process. It's just something for fans to keep in mind as he begins looking toward his collegiate career.
All told, it's easy to see why he's been rated so high by various recruiting services. He's a star in the making with his combination of size, vision and natural rushing skills. Now it's his job to make sure he reaches that potential.