Jalen Hurd was one of Tennessee’s top prospects for the 2014 recruiting class. The five-star prospect was nationally ranked as the No. 32 overall player, No. 2 athlete and No. 1 player from Tennessee by 247 Sports. Hurd entered Knoxville with high expectations and plenty of questions. The 6-3, 227 pound running back has been dissected and analyzed on whether he’s “too big” to play the position. However, Hurd possess an impressive combination of size and speed that should see him succeed in the SEC.

The only question remaining is “when”. Hurd enrolled early this past January to compete for the starting job at running back. But with senior Marlin Lane in the fold, the amount of carries Hurd will receive is in question. Adding to consideration is the fact that Hurd is coming off major shoulder surgery that forced him to miss all but one game of his senior season.

As it stands, Hurd will enter Tennessee’s opening game against Utah State as the No. 2 running back and is expected to see some touches. While the freshman may start the season at second-string, many believe he will make enough of an impact to take the starting job by season’s end. Lane is a solid running back, but he’s hardly an irreplaceable option. Throughout his career, the senior has shared carries with several backs and embraced the role positively. With Hurd, Tennessee has the most heralded running back prospect since (dare we say it) Bryce Brown, but hopefully with better results.

Against Utah State, Hurd should see a solid amount of carries. His early impressions in camp and practices have been stellar and his shoulder doesn’t seem to be a problem. In Tennessee’s spring game, Hurd recorded 93 all-purpose yards on 12 touches, including 66 rushing, a 6.0 average and a touchdown run. Between splitting time with Lane and getting a feel for the speed of the college game, 12 touches seems like a reasonable prediction for Hurd’s Tennessee debut. Facing a Utah State defense with a talented linebacking duo of Kyler Fackrell and Zach Vigil will be a challenge, but will ultimately prepare the freshman back for the defenses of the SEC. It may take a few carries, but expect Hurd to make an impact in his collegiate debut this Sunday.