Interest growing for Hurd

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Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Jalen Hurd is quickly establishing himself as one of the Southeast's more intriguing prospects in the Class of 2014.

At just 16 years of age, Hurd already has film circulating through the coaching offices of BCS schools.

A majority of the early interest the Beech (Tenn.) High School playmaker is receiving is coming from Clemson, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Tennessee.

As of Saturday, he wasn't hearing anything from Vanderbilt, even though its Nashville campus is only 23 miles from Beech. That changed on Tuesday as the Commodores became the first school to offer Hurd a football scholarship.

Mississippi State is recruiting him as a wide receiver, while Clemson wants him as an all-purpose back. The Vols are thinking he could fit in as a running back or tight end. He also has heard some mentioning of linebacker.

"Next level, everyone's telling me different positions, but I'm trying to go in as a running back," Hurd told InsideTennessee. "I think my mobility and size is different from other running backs.

"I understand that all these colleges are looking at me for wide receiver because of my height and my size and that I probably will play a different position from running back. But, I'm going to try go as running back."

At his size, maintaining a low pad level and making himself into a small target in traffic may be a concern if he wants to line up in the backfield on the next level.

"I do certain drills to keep me low," said Hurd, who compares his game to St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. "Definitely when you always go through the line, I'm real low. Everyone keeps telling me to stay low when I get out of the pile, but I seem to get higher when I get out of the pile. That's something I need to work on.

"I'm trying to get the size on, but I've always been a smaller back when I was younger. But, I've just put on this height. So, I'm the same physical back when I was younger, but I've gotten taller."

Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and running backs coach Jay Graham are the Vols' lead recruiters for the sophomore.

"When I went to camp, I had a good relationship with them," Hurd said. "I stayed close to them. They treated me very well. But, I haven't heard much from them. They've called up to my school, called my coaches, just talking about how I'm doing and stuff probably during football season."

Hurd came up to Knoxville last season to see the Vols take on then-No. 1-ranked LSU at Neyland Stadium.

"It was amazing. It was a great experience. I'd never really been to a college game like that. Definitely being up close was good," he said.

The Big Orange have something of an advantage for his services as not only the premier in-state program, but also because Hurd has always thought highly of Tennessee.

"I've always been a UT fan," Hurd said. "It's funny how I like UT, and I like Florida both. You can't like both schools. I always get messed with for it because people joke with me about it. But, I like both programs."

Under coach Anthony Crabtree, the Buccaneers finished fourth in District 9-AAA. They caught fire in the TSSAA Class 5A playoffs, eliminating Clarksville and Station Camp before losing to Hendersonville 23-22 in the quarterfinals.

"In my opinion, we had a great year. We went 8-5 and made the third round of the playoffs," Hurd said.

He rushed for 1,594 yards and 22 touchdowns on 205 carries. He also caught 26 balls for 421 yards and three more scores.

Hurd, who was at the De'Vinner Combine last weekend but did not participate due to a mild strain in his back, sports a 3.2 grade point average but hasn't taken the ACT. He tentatively plans on majoring in architecture.

"I really don't know (why architecture)," Hurd said. "There's just something about it. I preferably don't like math, but I'm pretty good at it. That's just what I'm saying right now."

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

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