In the Southeastern Conference, things sure can go sideways when a team drops an unexpected game. Hey, it just means more right?
The latest example comes from Knoxville, where Monday morning Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has confirmed earlier reports that junior running back Jalen Hurd plans to leave the program effective immediately. Hurd did not participate in the second half of the South Carolina game.
“I support him on that and I’m very supportive of (his decision),” Jones said after confirming the news. The coach denied that any promises were made to the junior running back which may have led to Hurd’s decision to leave.
This news comes on the heels of Tennessee’s surprising 24-21 loss in Columbia Saturday night to a 3-4 South Carolina team. Making the game’s end results even worse, the Vols were coming off a bye and had two weeks to prepare for a true freshman quarterback in Jake Bentley, who was making his first career start against a league opponent.
Hurd leaves Tennessee after accumulating 2,635 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. His rushing total puts him sixth on the school’s all-time rushing list, only 444 yards away from becoming the program’s all-time leader (Travis Henry is Tennessee’s leader with 3,078 yards).
At this time, it seems worth noting Hurd missed most of the second half of the Georgia game and did not make the trip to Texas A&M this season under odd circumstances. Jones commented on the back’s absence saying Hurd had suffered a “lower extremity” injury in the Georgia game and was believed to have missed the trip to College Station due to an “upper-body injury” many believed to be stemming from a concussion.
Where this leaves the Vols with four games remaining on the schedule is anyone’s best guess but this move seems odd on the outside looking in considering Tennessee still has a shot to represent East division in Atlanta.