The ground game stole the show for Tennessee Football in the season opener victory over Virginia. Dylan Sampson led the way, scoring four touchdowns in the 49-13 win.
The 18-year-old caught a touchdown and he ran for three more on the ground. He is the first running back to score four total touchdowns since John Kelly Jr. in 2017.
“We’ve all kind of seen him develop and just seeing how he’s grown as a player,” Jacob Warren said on the VolReport. “Obviously got here last year and made a good impact, did his job and made some plays and kind of showed up whenever he was called upon and whatever. But truly has stepped up and worked a lot in the weight room and in the film room and just trying to understand his role. Obviously gets met with an opportunity like that and is able to go out there and smash it. Four touchdowns, first game is crazy and couldn’t happen to a better guy.”
Sampson finished his day with 61 yards on the ground to go along with his three rushing touchdowns. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native adds another versatile piece to the Vols’ offense and trio of running backs.
The former track star posted a 23 mph top-speed on the Vols’ catapult system. He showcased his speed and agility on Saturday in Nissan Stadium.
“I think electric is the right word,” Warren said. “I think that that’s that’s exactly how I feel about him. And he’s fast. He’s shifty, makes people miss. Reminds you a lot of honestly a lot of guys like, like Alvin Kamara and in my mind right is a similar body type and just style of running back. Really low to the ground, able to just kind of make people miss without really even trying. It looks like that’s kind of how most of our backs are.”
Sampson scored the most, but every Tennessee Football running back had a productive day on Saturday. Jaylen Wright led the way with 115 yards on 12 carries, averaging just under 10 yards a carry. Jabari Small had 13 carries, going for 67 yards.
It is safe to say the hype around the running back room was well-deserved in the preseason. Tennessee Football rushed for 287 yards with some help from Joe Milton III.
Despite a “competition” in the running back room for snaps, the group has formed a brotherhood.
“We push each other every single day,” Sampson said. “It’s fun to have that competition, because you always have to be on your best,” Sampson said. “We all want to be the guy that gets into the endzone and makes the good plays, which makes us even better. But on the flip side of that, we aren’t selfish. We help each other out. We celebrate with our brothers. You never know when you have to lean on your brother. Like today, sometimes they get tired and I have to go in for them, it’s just leaning on brothers and trusting each other. Having that competition with Jabari and Jay(len) Wright, it has only made all of us compete at our best.”