Creer bursts onto scene

He waited six quarters to get his first touch of the 2008 football season. What he did next, though, ensured that he gets quite a few more.

After sitting out all of Game 1 vs. UCLA and the first half of Game 2 vs. UAB, Tennessee tailback Lennon Creer finally got to play late in the third quarter of Saturday's home opener. His first carry was a sweep of right end that gained five yards. His second carry went 45 yards for a touchdown.

Afterward, however, the 6-1, 210-pound sophomore from Tatum, Texas, was the picture of humility.

"The offensive line got great push," he said of the TD burst. "We made up our mind that we were going to run the football – pound the rock. I didn't do anything spectacular. The offensive line just blocked great."

Actually, Creer did one thing that was at least borderline spectacular. After popping through a big hole at right tackle, he deftly faked a UAB linebacker off his feet, then kicked into high gear the last 40 yards to the end zone.

Creer wasn't done, though. He rambled 16 yards on the first play of Tennessee's next possession. After bolting up the gut for 8 yards, he gained 5, 6 and 5 yards before scoring his second touchdown of the game – this time crashing into the end zone standing up from 3 yards out.

Creer's numbers – 93 yards and two TDs on just eight carries – probably shocked a lot of observers. Not Stan Drayton.

"I'm not surprised by his performance because he really put together a good week of practice preparing for this game," Tennessee's running backs coach said. "What he did on the game field was what he did on the practice field last week. He's growing that way. That was a step toward maturity for him. I hope he learns and builds from there."

Creer showed flashes of brilliance as a true freshman in 2007, averaging a team-best 5.9 yards per attempt. Stuck behind Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty, however, he got just 36 carries all season.

This fall he's still stuck behind Foster and Hardesty, which is why he spent nearly seven quarters on the sidelines before finally getting to join his first Vol huddle of 2008.

"I watched him the first two quarters, sitting on that bench, and he could not sit still," Drayton recalled. "He was waiting for his opportunity."

After spending all of Game 1 on the bench, some guys might have told the coaches they deserved to play. Creer decided to SHOW them.

"I felt like I could practice a lot harder and get myself prepared for the game," he recalled. "Then they gave me the opportunity to play."

Once his opportunity finally arrived, Creer took it and literally ran with it.

"It was fun," he said. "I was real anxious at the beginning of the game – to see if I would get any playing time. When they put me in the game I just tried to make the best of it."

He succeeded.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories