Squeezing in the Big Orange

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Prospects are giving verbal commitments to universities earlier each recruiting cycle.

Tennessee entered this spring with four pledges — Jason Carr, Camion Patrick, Austin Sanders and Corey Vereen — and added one more before the season's workouts concluded when Dominic Zanca chose the Volunteers on April 20.

The Big Orange made up ground on several other prospects of varying classes, including an eye-opening experience for some Class of 2014 talent.

Although he visited Knoxville unofficially last October, Jalen Hurd received further education on the organization third-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is building by visiting this spring for a scrimmage.

"Oh, it was amazing," Hurd told InsideTennessee. "It's amazing how the stadium holds so many people. I remember going to a game against LSU in the season at UT, and it was just astonishing honestly."

Hurd took a tour of the campus last summer. This past trip he had lunch with his mother and other prospects in a box at Neyland Stadium.

Hurd's mother, Tara, is open to the idea of her son suiting up for the Vols one day.

"Oh of course she thinks it is amazing, it's close to home, how perfect can you get?" Hurd said.

Should the Vols extend a scholarship offer to Hurd, it would be his third from a Southeastern Conference school.

Nearby Vanderbilt, which is just 23 miles from his Hendersonville, Tenn., home, was the first to offer. Mississippi State and Cincinnati pulled the trigger the final week of April. On Tuesday, Nebraska became the first Big Ten school to pony up.

Proximity is one trait the Big Orange has working in its favor with Hurd.

"I like being close to home, but everyone wants to try to get away. I think it's perfect — it's not too far from home but it's just enough to make you feel you're not really at home anymore," he said.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney talked with Hurd about the Beech (Tenn.) High School product's ability to fit into Tennessee's Pro-Style scheme as a running back. Some schools are interested in Hurd as a wide receiver or as an athlete on the defensive side given his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame.

"They've expressed a lot of interest in me at running back," Hurd said. "They love my size, and they said they like me running the ball."

Last season, he ran for 1,594 yards on 205 attempts with 22 touchdowns. He also pulled in 26 receptions for 421 yards and three TDs.

A tender back from working out a bit too hard this year has slowed him down as he prepares for his junior year on the gridiron. That back is healed up and Hurd is back at it.

The Beech ball carrier competes on the school's track team during the spring, running the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter.

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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