Almost every Vol fan around the world can agree on one thing: Alvin Kamara was underutilized while he was at Tennessee. And Kamara apparently agrees with that sentiment as well.
Kamara, now a rookie with the New Orleans Saints in the NFL, sat down with Ben Baskin of Sports Illustrated for an interview about his unique personality and his fit down in New Orleans. During the interview, Kamara’s time with the Vols came up. And Kamara wasn’t thrilled with the way he was used while at Tennessee.
When asked about his experience with the Vols, Kamara described it as “F—ed up.”
“Kamara is clearly a dynamic force on the field, but a coach must scheme for his abilities.” Baskin writes. “To fully actualize his impact on the field, an offense needs to adapt around him, create specific packages and plays that utilize his rare versatility and skill set.
“Tennessee chose not to do that.”
And Baskin is right. Kamara averaged seven yards per touch in his two seasons with the Vols, yet he only averaged just 11.8 touches per game. Yet his counterpart (for most of those two seasons, anyway), Jalen Hurd, averaged 19.9 touches per game on offense. And Hurd only averaged 4.8 yards per touch on offense.
Hurd would end up transferring after the South Carolina game during the 2016 season. He sat out this past season at Baylor and will be eligible to play this upcoming season in 2018. Kamara, meanwhile, declared early for the NFL draft after the 2016 season and was drafted in the third round by the Saints.
And Kamara is now up for Rookie of the Year consideration after an explosive rookie campaign.
Kamara totaled 728 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on just 120 carries and added 826 receiving yards and five scores on 81 receptions. He also returned a kick-off for a score. He had the third-most rushing yards by a rookie in the NFL this season and led all rookies regardless of position in receptions. He also had the third-most receiving yards among all rookies in the NFL this season.
And according to Baskin, Kamara saw that success coming.
“‘As long as I get the chance, he would tell friends before the draft, ‘I’ll shine,'” Baskin writes.
There was one important lesson that Kamara learned while in Knoxville, however. He may not have liked how he was used on the field, but by all accounts Kamara seemed to enjoy himself in the town and enjoyed the relationships he formed while at Tennessee. And he learned while in Knoxville that if he was true to himself, he felt better and played better.
“I have to be unapologetically me,” Kamara stated to Baskin.
That strategy has seemed to work out for Kamara so far.