- Advertisement -

Tennessee Football: 4 reasons to watch the Vols’ running backs in 2023

- Advertisement -

There’s no reason to have any doubt in Tennessee’s receivers this season. However, I’m more confident in another pack of players, which may come as a surprise to some.

In fact, I think the position group that I have in mind could be generationally good. 

While the nation may hem and haw over Tennessee’s receivers, it’s tough to remember a trio of tailbacks better than what the Vols may display this fall. Will Tennessee coach Josh Heupel have the Vols’ receivers ready to go despite two significant losses to the NFL? Yes, that seems a given even with a new crew. However, Tennessee’s running backs will be more prepared to carry the load than they were in 2022 and may quietly be the best crew on the Vols’ roster and one of the most overlooked position groups in the SEC.

Here are four reasons why:

Jaylen Wright is just good

The consensus headed into last season was that Jabari Small was bigger by 15 pounds and would be the Vols’ leading rusher. However, Small still got banged up at times, which opened the door for Jaylen Wright, who had more yards rushing yards, 875, than Small, who rang up 734 yards on the ground. Wright averaged six yards per rush on 146 carries while Small averaged 4.7-yards last season. 

- Advertisement -

Small played big last season

Despite some nagging injuries, Small still carried the ball 157 times last season, so he’s proven to be at least semi-durable. Small is also adept in short-yardage situations and finding creases that can be tough to detect. Small posted 13 rushing touchdowns last season, which led the Vols. Also, with a deeper, more proven group of tailbacks, Small should be fresher throughout the season barring a significant injury.

Don’t sleep on Dylan Sampson

Now a sophomore, Sampson was the star of spring practice both publicly and behind closed doors. Sampson was limited last season as he learned the offense and, most importantly, pass protection. Don’t be surprised if he leads the Vols in all-purpose yards. Heupel will find more ways to utilize Sampson now that he’s more comfortable with the overall offense.

Cam Seldon can play

There are plenty of analysts and fans that are sold on Seldon being the new star on Tennessee’s football team. I’m not…but I’m not ruling it out. After enrolling in January, Seldon looked the part of an SEC tailback in spring practice. If nothing else, he’ll bring depth immediately. Seldon is also Tennessee’s biggest back so he should be able to punish defenses.


When is the last time the Vols had this much tailback depth. Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara come to mind in the mid-2010’s. However, they were just a duo. The Vols will have at least three – and maybe four – competent tailbacks this season. When is the last time that happened? The late 1990’s. 

Tennessee won two SEC championships and a national title with Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry and Travis Stephens. That may not happen this year and the current trio is probably not of the same ilk as that championship crew. However, fielding the best, deepest group of tailbacks in 25 years is nothing to take lightly. And as for those receivers, as long as Heupel is in charge, they’ll be just fine.

- Advertisement -

Latest YouTube Videos

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Podcast

- Advertisement -

More Podcasts

- Advertisement -