Hurd grinding 'nonstop'

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It wasn't the record-breaking, back-to-back state championship, Mr. Football finale to an illustrious high school career Jalen Hurd wanted.

Adversity struck the running back in the first half of the first game of his senior season as a season-ending injury to a freshly healed shoulder closed out his dreams.

Still, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has aspirations of returning to form and being the game-changer that Tennessee coaches and fans envision. That's closer to becoming a reality as he continues to rehab after a September surgery.

"The shoulder is going great," Hurd told InsideTennessee. "I've been doing rehab nonstop. I should be ready to go in January when I get here."

The Beech (Tenn.) High School standout can't squat with hundreds of pounds of weight on his shoulders but he can leg press and do machine work.

The FOX Sports and Scout No. 12 running back in the country says it will be another 1-4 weeks before he can work out his entire upper body. "I'm so ready to get get back to it, you have no idea," Hurd said.

"I do legs three times a week. I'm nonstop doing that. I'm just nonstop training until I get here."

Hurd, his mother Tara and step-father Arthur were all in attendance to see Tennessee's thrilling 23-21 victory over then-No. 9 South Carolina.

"I think the atmosphere was great," Hurd said. "I think Georgia (gameday atmosphere) was better even though we didn't come out with a win. But, this was just as good as any atmosphere I've been in. This definitely tops probably one of the best games I've been to."

Even though the Vols are still fighting to simply reach bowl eligibility, the and Scout four-star prospect believes the winds of change blowing across Big Orange Country are positive.

"It definitely does," Hurd said. "Coach (Butch Jones) didn't really have the time and the resources to get all the recruits and everything that he wanted to get in last year and this year. Since he's got that this year, it's going to be something special next year. Just how our recruiting class is doing for 2014 and everything like that it's going to be great."

Other visitors in the front row beyond the north end zone included JUCO official visitors offensive lineman Avery Gennesy and wide receiver LaVon Pearson. Hurd said he spoke to both. Pearson committed less than 24 hours later. Gennesy has the Vols in his top 3.

Already declared for Tennessee along the offensive front are tackle Dontavius Blair, tackle Orlando Brown Jr., guard Ray Raulerson and center Coleman Thomas. That's music to the ears of a runner hoping to have gaping holes of daylight to spring through.

"I do (feel good about the future offensive line)," Hurd said. "When linemen see other linemen committing and they see Tennessee doing well and they see Tennessee getting back on top and they see coach Jones' attitude and just the entire atmosphere, there's no way you can deny Tennessee or turn it down."

While in east Tennessee, Hurd ventured over to The Webb School to see future teammate and friend Todd Kelly Jr. compete.

"I went to his game. It was pretty cool. It wasn't as big of a crowd as I thought it was going to be; they just have a small school. He did really well. I think he had like four touchdowns that game. He did awesome," Hurd said.

The Hendersonville, Tenn., resident's plans are to return to Knoxville to continue familiarizing himself with his future home and to help recruit. He says he'll be in attendance for the final two home games versus Auburn (Nov. 9) and Vanderbilt (Nov. 23).

After going 15-0 and winning the 2012 TSSAA Class 5A state championship with Hurd leading the way, the Beech Buccaneers went 6-4 this fall without their top player. The Bucs host Hillsboro in the first round of the playoffs Friday.

Later this winter, Hurd plans to attend the U.S. Army All-American week with fellow Vols commits Todd Kelly Jr. and Kevin Mouhon. He does not plan to participate and will enroll at Tennessee on Jan. 6.

Here are highlights of Hurd in his prep finale:

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 FOX Sports NEXT team July 2011.
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