Pennamon picks between 17 offers

Tennessee is trying to dip into Texas for its next great running back. Do the Vols have a chance at landing one of the state's best rushers in 2016?

D'Vaughn Pennamon is almost as dangerous when he’s thrown the ball as he is when quarterbacks hand it to him out of the backfield. The three-star Manvel (Texas) prospect rushed for 657 yards and six touchdowns on just 61 carries as a junior while catching seven more scores and 292 yards in the passing game.

Pennamon’s versatile skillset and cutback ability have made him a hot commodity among college football programs, as noted by his 17 scholarship offers. Tennessee is one of those 17 schools vying for his talent, and Scout’s No. 9 ranked Texas running back is finally beginning to narrow down a list that includes the Vols, Arkansas, Nebraska, Houston and UCLA.

When it comes to making a final choice, Pennamon isn’t just concerned with on-field play.

“I want the academics because I want to get my grades,” he told InsideTennessee. “I want a school that has a good fan base. That would be great, academics and fan base.”

Tennessee appears to fit the bill in both categories, and running backs coach Robert Gillespie has stayed glued to the phone while he tries to sway the elusive back.

“We talked a couple of times before I got the offer. He told me about the school and the championships and all that,” Pennamon said.

“We talk very frequently. I’ll either call him or we’ll DM each other on Twitter. We keep in touch.”

The dangerous running back employs a quick acceleration and devastating cutback ability to create space and shake defenders out of their shoes. He’s also a proven danger as both a dump-off safety valve and route runner.

“They like that I have the ability to get out of the backfield,” Pennamon said of inquiring coaches. “I can get positive yards as a running back.”

The No. 40 overall running back prospect in the class of 2016 will now have to sort through a growing list of prospective schools, but he does have his favorites.

Pennamon said Arkansas and Houston are at the top of his list right now because of their coaching staffs and running back-oriented offensive schemes.

“I just feel like the coaching staffs, both of them really, are really great,” he said. “I like all of the tempo they have and the things they do on offense.”

But he’s not discounting other programs at the moment, and Tennessee still has a chance at landing his services before he makes a concrete decision after making visits to his top schools this spring.

"I’m going to go to U of H and I’m going to try to get to Arkansas,” Pennamon said. "I'm going to start narrowing it down after this spring."

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