Oku and Poole come into their own

Tennessee fans got the chance to watch sophomore running back David Oku grow and mature into an important running back for the Vols offense. Go "Inside" to get our thoughts on the situation and how Oku has come into his own as the Vols defeated UT Martin 50-0.

David Oku and Tauren Poole have more in common than what most fans realize.

The two Vol tailbacks got left out of the running back rotation last year, and both players accepted their role and worked harder to improve their fortunes.

Poole was given a second lease on life after last year's coaching staff left last January, and Oku kept his mouth shut. He realized he was a true freshman last year and knew his time would come.

Many thought that Poole and Oku would have added a lot of big play potential to the Vols last fall in a four-man rotation at that position.

Oku's time arrived Saturday night in the season opener for the Vols and the opening debut of the Derek Dooley era of football at the University of Tennessee.

Most expected Poole to make a big splash in the opener against UT Martin, but it was Oku who brings a different style and a different pace to the running back position.

Dooley responded earlier this week on the tailback position.

"Both guys will see a lot of action," Dooley said. "Oku has worked hard and has had a great fall camp. He will play a lot Saturday night."

And play he did.

Oku scored on a 44-yard run in the first quarter, proving to Vol fans he also is a big play back and a big play threat.

Oku, who has a great personality and who is always cutting up about it being his time to live in Poole's shadow, proved Saturday evening that he plans on not living in anyone's shadow this season.

In fact, Vol fans witnessed firsthand the young sophomore back mature and grow into his own against the Tennessee-Martin.

He finished the first half of play with four carries for 52 yards as the Vols led the Skyhawks 20-0.

"I tell Tauren all the time that in time I will get mine," Oku said with a laugh last week. "He gets enough big plays; it's time for him to share the spotlight."

Share he did.

Poole, who ended the night as the team's leading rusher with 17 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns, is definitely the Vols lead horse, but one thing is for sure: Oku has come into his own as well.

Oku finished the night with six carries for 77 yards and one touchdown.

Speaking of a stable of running backs, true freshman Rajion Neal and Toney Williams also saw action late in the fourth quarter.

The Vols finished the night with 494 total yards of offense as Tennessee defeated UT Martin 50-0.

Oku and Poole have both arrived, and they will both play important roles for the Vols offense. Honestly, it's about time.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories