Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd leaving Vols, plans to transfer

Monday October 31st, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd has indicated he plans to transfer, leaving the Volunteers without one of the most prolific runners in school history as they attempt to snap a three-game skid that has dropped them out of the Top 25.

Vols coach Butch Jones announced Monday that Hurd informed him earlier in the day of his intentions to transfer.

''I support him on that,'' Jones said. ''I'm very, very thankful for everything that he's done for our football program, but it's all about our football program and our football team in moving forward from this point forward.''

Hurd, a junior from Hendersonville, Tennessee, ends his Vols career with 2,638 yards rushing. He was only 440 yards away from Travis Henry's 16-year-old school rushing record.

The announcement comes two days after Hurd ran for just 16 yards on eight carries in a stunning 24-21 loss at South Carolina. Tennessee entered that game ranked 18th and was a two-touchdown favorite.

Hurd didn't carry the ball in the second half of the South Carolina game. Jones said Monday that an injury prevented Hurd from being available.

''I value our relationship and have a lot of respect for that young man and wish him nothing but the best,'' Jones said.

Hurd rushed for 899 yards as a freshman and 1,288 yards last season while displaying a bruising style that made the most of his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame.

But he wasn't quite as effective this year. He ran for 451 yards and averaged just 3.7 yards per carry while working behind a line that has been hampered by injuries. Hurd had entered this season averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Hurd sat out a 45-38 double-overtime loss to Texas A&M with an unspecified injury and has rushed for a total of 44 yards on 21 carries in the two games since.

''I wish him well and hope he finds everything that he's looking for,'' Jones said.

Hurd finished his Tennessee career with 26 total touchdowns (20 rushing, six receiving). He had 67 career catches for 492 yards, including 10 receptions for 81 yards this season.

The loss of Hurd limits Tennessee's options in its rushing attack as the Vols also are missing Alvin Kamara, who sat out the South Carolina game with an unspecified injury.

Jones said Kamara also won't play Saturday against Football Championship Subdivision program Tennessee Tech (3-5) and is questionable to return Nov. 12 against Kentucky. Jones also noted that defensive tackle Shy Tuttle will miss the remainder of the season with an injury that wasn't specified.

Kamara's absence likely means sophomore John Kelly will be Tennessee's main running back this week. Kelly ran for a team-high 94 yards on 14 carries against South Carolina and has rushed for 209 yards on 33 attempts this season.

''Obviously he will gain a greater role in our offense,'' Jones said. ''He's an individual who's earned this opportunity. You talk about dynamics of leadership, he's one of the leaders of this football team. His energy. His passion. He was one of the most vocal players we had last night in my individual meetings with some guys. You talk about asserting your will on a football team, he's very, very passionate.''

Hurd's transfer marks a surprising conclusion to the career of a player whose arrival helped signal the resurgence of Tennessee's program. He was rated as a five-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports.

His decision to join the Vols spearheaded Jones' mission to win back the state in recruiting after top Tennessee prospects had signed elsewhere in previous years. He now becomes the 12th player from Tennessee's heralded 2014 recruiting class to leave the school with eligibility remaining. That class had been ranked among the top five in the nation by multiple services.

Hurd also is the second former five-star recruit to leave Tennessee during this season. Wide receiver Preston Williams, who had caught only 16 passes in 1 + seasons at Tennessee, was granted his release Oct. 13.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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