Tennessee head coach Butch Jones' motto throughout the building process on Rocky Top is "brick-by-brick," and he's amassed enough talent at the skill positions to build a small fortress.
That trend continued over the weekend when Alvin Kamara, a 4-star running back in the class of 2015 from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, committed to the Vols over the Georgia Bulldogs via Twitter.
I am committed to THE University of Tennessee. *exhales* #GoVols— Alvin Kamara (@A_kamara6) June 21, 2014
Kamara is a former running back at Alabama who was suspended for the Sugar Bowl and announced is decision to transfer to junior college in January, according to 247Sports. He was the No. 3 all-purpose back coming out of Georgia's Norcross High School in 2013, and initially chose Alabama over Georgia, Auburn, Clemson and several others.
So what does it mean for Tennessee?
Once he finishes his lone season at junior college, Kamara, who redshirted with Alabama, will join a roster in Knoxville loaded with weapons at skill positions in 2015.
Jalen Hurd, a 6'3", 221-pound running back who dazzled in his first spring practice session, will be a sophomore when Kamara is eligible. Any issues associated with making the transition to the the college game will be in the rearview mirror, and when Hurd combines with the 5'11", 200-pound Kamara, the two running backs will create a dangerous "thunder and lightning" combination on Rocky Top.
Wide receivers Marquez North, Josh Malone and Von Pearson will put tremendous stress on opposing defenses, and only Pearson—a redshirt junior this year—is draft eligible. All three could, and likely should, remain on the roster when Kamara transfers.
The offensive line is an issue this year, but great offensive lines are built off continuity. The pieces of that puzzle will have plenty of time to develop that much-needed chemistry this year, and will be a strength in 2015.
The quarterback is the last piece of the puzzle for the Vols heading into this season.
Justin Worley, Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman are vying for the top spot on the depth chart this year. If the senior Worley wins the job, as he is expected to, that would leave a void for Dobbs, Peterman, 2015 commit Quinten Dormady or perhaps another signee or transfer to fill.
Simply put, it's the last question the Vols need to answer before they can get back into the discussion in the SEC East.
That's not to say they can't be a pest in 2014. Those skill players will have an impact, but the completely revamped offensive line will prevent the Vols from being consistent. Sure, they'll be competitive in some games against the big boys, but they will also find themselves in a few slugfests with lesser opponents as the line gains much-needed experience.
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If the quarterback situation is settled, look for the Vols to make some noise. Those weapons on offense would allow the defense to be opportunistic, which would allow the Vols to compete at an elite level, and Jones' track record suggests that's coming.
The only two seasons Jones' offenses struggled (2011 and 2013) were when his starting quarterback got injured. Worley injured his thumb against Alabama last season and missed the final month. In 2011, Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros broke his ankle in November giving way to Munchie Legaux, according to the Associated Press.
If he gets consistency from his quarterback, or develops enough depth where the potential drop-off from starter to backup isn't as noticeable, this Vols team is going to be tough to deal with.
Will the Vols return to prominence this season? Not likely. Uncertainty in the trenches will prevent it.
But Kamara's commitment gives Jones another weapon to work with. If he can get the quarterback position worked out, 2015 could be a banner year on Rocky Top.
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