By Josh Ward
You know those guys who look the part?
The guy who walks off the bus and has opposing fans asking, “Uh, who’s that guy?”
That guy in this case is Cameron Seldon.
Seldon was a highly-touted recruit in the 2023 class from Heathsville, Va., who signed with Tennessee and enrolled in January.
Throughout the recruiting process, there was a question about his college position.
Is he a running back or wide receiver? Could he even play defense?
There wasn’t a definitive answer, mainly because his college coach would help decide.
The only thing everyone seemed to agree on was this: Seldon can play.
A guy that big (6-2, 220) with that kind of speed (10.74 in the 100-meter) belongs on the field.
That evaluation was backed up by Seldon’s performance in the spring game.
We have the answer about his position: he’s a running back.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story of his role.
Seldon ran the ball 10 times for 43 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee’s Orange and White Game.
He showed off his burst and speed that helped him earn an impressive ranking as a recruit.
He also caught three passes for 43 yards. His day included multiple 20-yard plays.
Seldon’s position is running back. His role will be multi-dimensional.
“We felt like it was important to give him a home here early and grow and expand from that,” coach Josh Heupel said after the spring game. “He’s been really good from what he’s done inside the running back room. He cares (and) he competes really hard.
“For a guy that has a high-end top gear, electric speed – he’s willing to stick his foot in the ground, get vertical, get behind his pads and find a way to get plus-two (yards). He’s going to continue to grow.”
This is just the starting point for Seldon as a college player.
But his starting point is ahead of most freshmen.
Tennessee’s coaching staff likes all three running backs who are returning from last season: Jabari Small, Jaylen Wright and Dylan Sampson.
None of those players possess the combination of size and speed that Seldon has.
The size part will stand out.
Tennessee’s history is filled with backs who provided power and playmaking ability.
Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry. James Stewart. Jay Graham. Arian Foster. Cedric Houston and Gerald Riggs Jr. The late-great Reggie Cobb.
Any Tennessee fan can add more names to that list. It’s a long one.
Seldon has a chance to be the next running back to join it.
It might seem early to mention Seldon’s name with players who have accomplished so much for the Vols.
But consider what Seldon knows now and what he can become as he continues to learn.
During the spring, running backs coach Jerry Mack pointed to Seldon’s lack of experience at running back while playing at a small high school.
“I’ve really been excited just to see him grow,” Mack said. “Every practice, there’s something new that he’s learning. There’s some new technique or some new thing that he’s not seen before.”
For now, Seldon has the ability to rely on what he knows. That’s making plays.
“I can catch,” Seldon said. “I can run it.”
And that’s what will help him earn an early role in the offense.
Seldon can line up in the backfield or in the slot. He’ll provide quarterback Joe Milton III multiple options as a runner or receiver.
Seldon will have to earn his coaches’ trust, of course. Every freshman running back faces questions about ball security and pass protection.
But his playmaking ability is game-ready.
And he’ll be even better by the time Tennessee kicks off the season against Virginia on Sept. 2.
Just ask Tennessee’s head coach.
“Who he is today,” Heupel said, “man, I expect him to be dramatically better when we get to kickoff next September. And I just say that because he’s going to continue to grow with the way that he works.”