No Graham, no Hurd?

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Of the top priorities for Tennessee with its 2014 signing class is to bring in an elite running back. That conversation starts with in-state product Jalen Hurd.

Ironically, the coaching staff change in Knoxville has helped the Volunteers' recruitment of the Beech (Tenn.) High School star. The one holdover in the transition from head coach Derek Dooley to head coach Butch Jones was running backs aide Jay Graham.

Now, the one constant for Tennessee in its courting of Hurd is gone as Graham left Rocky Top on Monday to take a position at Florida State.

"I really don't know how I feel right now, but I am definitely upset that he has left," Hurd told InsideTennessee. "He was a great coach in that program."

Jones wasted no time getting in touch with the Hurd camp, placing a call to Hendersonville, Tenn., shortly after the news of Graham's departure went public to let the elite runner know that a plan is already in place to bring in a more-than-competent replacement.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Hurd has gone on record saying he wants to see the Vols progress on fall Saturdays if they want to stay in the hunt for his signature on a National Letter of Intent.

Alabama signed a quartet of All-American running backs in 2013, including Altee Tenpenny.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
"I think they'll do that. I think they've got that in them," said the U.S. Army All-American, whose most recent trip on Feb. 16 had him shoulder to shoulder with Jones and Graham a majority of the time.

Other schools like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Vanderbilt are in the race as well.

"I'm hearing from Florida quite a bit," Hurd said. "Coach (Brent) Pease, I'm talking to him. I talk to coach (Will) Muschamp once in awhile. I talk to (Ohio State) coach (Urban) Meyer a little bit. I'm talking to Vandy a little bit. It's kind of everywhere. I'm just taking it slow."

The reigning TSSAA Class AAA Mr. Football Back of the Year addressed rumors that Alabama has spoken with him about contributing somewhere besides running back.

"They were expressing a little interest when I came down there to play a little defense or play a little bit of other, but I believe they want me to stay at running back," Hurd said. "But, with how many running backs that came in, I'm not sure where my mindset is right now. I'm just kind of playing it out."

The Crimson Tide signed four All-Americans in the Class of 2013 — Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara and Altee Tenpenny.

Along with continuing the relationship building with coaches from schools of interest, Hurd is working out at Beech in hopes of getting his stature up to 6-3, 235.

He said he is likely visiting Ohio State with high school coach Anthony Crabtree next.

"Coach Meyer is a player's coach and everyone really knows that. He's great," Hurd said.

"Everytime I come up there, they show love to my family, show love to me. They just have kind of a 'me day' and show me around…I just feel a lot of love from them."

Danny Parker is currently the Managing 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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