When Jalen Tyler Hurd was a running back and defensive back for Beech High School, he was the talk of the state prep scene.
He was a highly recruited junior when I went to see him play at Beech against Hendersonville.
I saw a man taking tickets at the front gate and I introduced myself. He said he was a teacher at Beech. I asked him if he had Hurd in any of his classes. He said he had him in one the previous year.
What kind of kid is he, I asked.
He’s great. He’s a yes-sir, no-sir type. His parents raised him right, the teacher said. He is quiet, humble, doesn’t cause any trouble in school.
Hurd was being heavily recruited by a number of major colleges. That night he ran for a lot of yards and enough touchdowns for Beech to win. He saved the game when he moved to the secondary late in the game and intercepted a pass that won the game.
Jalen Hurd became a Vol, a program down in the dumps. He was one of coach Butch Jones’ best recruiting class. He was Mr. Football in 2012, leading his team to a 56-35 win over Columbia Central in the state championship game. He ran for 394 yards and seven touchdowns in that game.
Hurd suffered a shoulder injury after one game his senior year at Beech and enrolled early at Tennessee.
He had NFL written all over him. Hurd got in the weight room and in his bio as a junior at Tennessee was listed at 6-4, 240 pounds. Hurd reminded me of former Titans star Eddie George as he ran upright and could run over or by opponents.
Hurd was a VolForLife. That is until he informed Butch Jones this week that he intends to transfer and play either tight end or wide receiver.
Hurd is leaving the team at the worst time. They are coming off an embarrassingly sloppy loss to South Carolina, a game in which they were going through the motions and allowed a freshman quarterback, who should still be in high school, to pick a Vols defense apart.
Hurd took himself out the second half. There was no sign of injury. Something smelled fishy.
Jalen Hurd seems to be a confused young man. He was not voted one of the four captains for this season. In one game, he got into a verbal confrontation with an assistant coach and was benched.
Jones knows if Hurd’s role was reduced because the offense was not suited for him. They kept trying to run him between the tackles and no one in the SEC can shine while running between the tackles all the time.
Hurd’s production dropped off after a decent start this season.
Redshirt junior Alvin Kamara became the Vols featured back along with sophomore John Kelly, a 5-9, 212-pound hard-running sophomore.
There is talk in Rocky Top of a divided locker room. The loss to South Carolina became a low point in the season. It likely eliminated the Vols from winning the SEC East and playing in the SEC Championship Game.
Florida has Arkansas and LSU to beat and the Gators will be in Atlanta.
So what happens to Hurd? He can transfer to a FCS school and not have to sit out a year. It’s his quickest path to the NFL.
His Facebook Page is filled with UT fans calling him a quitter. That was the nicest thing I saw them call him.
He became a square peg in a round hole in the Vols offense.
The next move is his. I don’t like where this is headed for Hurd, nor the Vols.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. Biddle is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.