Official trip goes 'great' for Ford

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No matter the head coach, no matter the offensive coordinator, if Tennessee wants to put points on the board against Southeastern Conference opponents, it must be able to run the football.

As of Jan. 13, looking at the commitment list at running back for the Volunteers, there isn't anyone.

A talent that could fill that void is Johnathan Ford. The New Hope (Ala.) High School back officially visited Knoxville weekend. It was his first time on The Hill in quite awhile.

"It went great," Ford told InsideTennessee. "I spent a lot of time with coach (Jay) Graham and coach (Butch) Jones. They're pretty good guys."

In 2012, Tennessee's top four tailbacks (Rajion Neal, Marlin Lane, Devrin Young, Quenshaun Watson) ran the football 331 times for 1,572 yards (4.75 per carry) and eight touchdowns. Three-quarters of those runners will be upperclassmen this fall. Another horse or two in the stable for assistant coach Graham is among the priorities for the Class of 2013.

"(Coaches talked about) how they need a complete back, and how I can impact the offense," Ford said. "Just how the offense suits me. There's not a guy like me that they're recruiting. They see me as special."

The soft commitment to Vanderbilt described his game: "I'm an efficient back — speed and power all the way. I've got great vision; I see everything. I'm everything you're looking for."

Along with eating like a king and taking a tour of campus, including Neyland Stadium, Ford got a better look at what the City of Knoxville has to offer.

"Yeah, man, I enjoyed it a lot. The city was great, a lot of good people. It was fun," said Ford, who was hosted by defensive back Jaron Toney.

The Indians enjoyed a successful season but missed out on the AHSAA Class 3A state playoffs in spite of a 6-4 record. Ford battled through a high ankle sprain during his senior season. He was metro player of the week for The Huntsville Times in early October after rushing for 252 yards on 16 carries with six touchdowns (19, 70, 10, 3, 5 and 50) in a 54-7 victory over Pisgah.

Looking forward, FOX Sports NEXT's No. 35 running back in the land plans to visit Vanderbilt this coming weekend and then Mississippi State. He has not officially removed his name from the Commodores' commitment list, but he could sign with them, Auburn, Mississippi State or Tennessee.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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