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August 9, 2014
Hurd, Vols' RBs shine under Neyland's lights
At the basis of Jalen Hurd's proclamation wasn't a specific play or a situation in Saturday night's scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.
Instead, it was just a feeling the freshman Tennessee running back had.
"The future is looking really good for us," Hurd told reporters candidly, "and I think we're working really hard."
Why the confidence?
"Just the work," he said, barely a week into his first collegiate pre-season training camp. "We're working really hard.
"I think our team has a bright future. We're working really hard. I think we're going to do well."
As for how Hurd did, or how Tennessee's offense did as a whole during the scrimmage, he wouldn't say.
The workout was off limits to the media. Players were cautioned before interviews began to avoid talking about scrimmage stats.
Even so, Hurd wasn't afraid to admit progress was made.
"It was awesome," he said. "We came out and played hard, played with tempo. With coach (Butch) Jones we talk about one day, and we took this one day at a time. Focus on this one scrimmage.
"I think we got a lot out of it. We got a lot better."
It started, according to Hurd, with Tennessee's new-name offensive line. Jacob Gilliam, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Kyler Kerbyson and Coleman Thomas, the Vols' first-team OL unit from left to right, were able to help the offense sustain some drives during the course of the two-hour exhibition.
"They did really, really good," Hurd said. "There are still things, of course, that we need to work on. But I think as a team we did really well tonight.
"I really can't give me much credit," he added. "My offensive line and my offense did all of it. We're all a team."
Jones pointed to a 13-play, 97-yard drive by the second-team offense, led by quarterback Nathan Peterman, as the double-edged sword at the line of scrimmage in intrasquad scrimmages.
"It was a combination," Jones said, after calling the battle in the trenches "give and take" between the offensive and defensive lines.
"It was some big plays on offense, which we've got to get off the field on defense. It was some big runs."
"I think Jalen Hurd continues to get better and better and better," Jones said. "So we did some good things."
The first week of camp has been an on-field workshop for Hurd --- continuing to work on pad level while adjusting to both football at the college level and his new backfield mates.
"Running lower is something I've definitely been trying to work on," Hurd, listed at 6-foot-3, said. "I think I am running a little bit lower.
"We do that in drills everyday, so I'm glad I'm picking up on that."
His relationship with Marlin Lane, on the field and off, has picked up, too.
"We like to motivate each other," Hurd said. "We like to try to lead, be a leadership role on this team and come out and try to push these guys everyday.
"He's been here, this is his fourth year. So I definitely look at him as a leader. I'm really glad I have him here with me.
"I look up to him a lot," Hurd continued. "I look at his running style. We feed off each other a lot."
As for how the reps were split between the two Saturday night, Hurd wouldn't say. Instead, he stuck to the 'working hard' script.
"There's really no (set) reps," he said. "This is a scrimmage, we're just trying to come out here and give our all. Come out here, work hard. Stuff like that."
VETERAN YOUNG SURGING
The third piece of the tailback battle continued to be an emerging Devrin Young, who moved back to the offensive backfield in spring and has continued to progress. Young on Saturday night had a lengthy touchdown run that covered nearly 25 to 30 yards.
Said fellow Knoxville native and equally improving sophomore wideout Josh Smith, "Devrin is first one here, last one to leave. He is day-and-night improved since last year. I'm so proud of him. Me and him being opponents for a while in high school, just growing up with him a little bit and just experiencing a lot. It's fun."
SCOTT BACK MONDAY
When talking about the competition at running back, Butch Jones mentioned that freshman Derrell Scott will return to work Monday when the Vols get back to Haslam Field.
Scott missed most of the past week due to an undisclosed injury and was one of nearly 15 players held out of Saturday night's scrimmage.
"We'll have Derrell Scott back, full-go on Monday," Jones said. "That just adds another element to the competition at running back."