KNOXVILLE — Tennessee's wave of football recruiting momentum continued Thursday morning, and it crested with one of the Volunteers' biggest targets.
Tailback Jalen Hurd, the state's top-ranked player for the 2014 class, announced via Twitter that he had committed to Tennessee. He's the fourth pledge of the week and fifth in the class. In just three months as the Vols' coach, Butch Jones now has landed Hurd and Knoxville safety Todd Kelly, the state's top two prospects according to most recruiting services.
"I really wanted to go to UT," Hurd told The Tennessean in Nashville. "Last year, they weren't in such a good position for me to go there, but with Coach Jones and the new staff, I think it's the best place for me to go."
The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from Hendersonville's Beech High School led the Buccaneers to a state championship last season with a 394-yard rushing performance in the Class 5A title game. He broke the single-season state rushing record with 3,357 yards and scored 43 touchdowns despite missing some time due to injury.
A five-star prospect and the nation's No. 10 overall player according to 247sports, Hurd had scholarship offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, Notre Dame and many others.
Hurd, who told the Times Free Press in late November he had no relationship with former Vols coach Derek Dooley and his staff, was on campus in February for Tennessee's basketball win against Kentucky. Kelly and Nashville athlete Vic Wharton, Tennessee's first 2014 commitment, took to social media and their cellphones in hopes of getting Hurd to jump on board with them.
While the Vols were practicing Thursday morning, he did.
"I want to be able to help get other players to come be a part of the 'rise and grind,'" Hurd told the Tennessean. "Coach Jones believes in getting the best from this state to come to Knoxville. His philosophy is, 'If you're not getting the best players from your own state, how can you expect guys from other states to come here?'
"I want to be part of Tennessee's uprising."
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...