Marlin Lane enters his final season in Knoxville. Entering 2014, the senior has career totals of 1472 yards and eight touchdowns on 296 carries. Lane is listed a-top Tennessee’s depth chart for the first time since enrolling in 2011, spending his entire career splitting carries with several other backs. However, the Vol running back most talked about this offseason is not the veteran Lane, but an incoming freshman with high expectations.

Five-star athlete Jalen Hurd enrolled early to compete with Lane for the starting running back position. Despite being listed as Tennessee No. 2 back, Hurd is expected to see plenty of carries in the Vols’ season opener against Utah State. But the experienced Lane should flourish even with the talented freshman in the fold.

Hurd brings bruising size that will wear down defenses. Lane will likely carry the load early and may be pushed by the competition. It’s Lane’s job to lose and that may give the senior even more motivation to cap off his Tennessee tenure with a career season. A two-back system has been proven to work at both the collegiate and professional level and should prove true for the Vols in 2014. With an uptempo read option scheme, having multiple running backs will help keep the offense fresh.

Winning may be the greatest factor in the equation. While Lane has enjoyed a solid individual career, the Vols have failed to post a winning record in each of his three seasons. If sharing carries with Hurd helps Tennessee win games, the mature veteran will likely accept any given role. Lane has plenty of motivation entering his final season and should be a major contributor to Tennessee’s read option offense. Being pushed by a talented younger back will only add fuel to the fire. His experience gives him the early edge and production will be the ultimate factor in whether he can remain Tennessee’s premiere back.