Jalen Hurd’s career-high total of 151 yards on the ground at Missouri on Saturday helped the sophomore back continue to rise on the list of the most productive UT running backs in school history.
Whether he has a chance to be among the greatest of all-time overall when it’s all said and done will depend on the future, his ability to stay healthy and ultimately will be a matter of opinion and judgement.
But from a purely statistical standpoint, Hurd is moving up the ranks. Now at 1,038 yards on the season, Hurd already is having the 15th-best season by a UT running back in school history. With two games remaining, if he he holds his average per game from this season (94.3), he’ll end up with the ninth-best rushing total for a back in a single season in UT history.
That’s an impressive year for the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder out of Hendersonville, Tenn. But perhaps even more impressive is his climb on the all-time leading rusher list for the Vols. Combining his solid sophomore campaign so far with his 899 yards on the ground as a true freshman, Hurd sits at 1,937 career rushing yards – an average of 80.7 yards per contest in his career.
Even if Hurd is to leave following his junior season, which is a real possibility, he in all likelihood has at least 15 games remaining in his UT career. If he’s able to keep up that modest pace of 80.7 yards per game and can stay healthy, he’ll add 1,210 more rushing yards to his total before he departs for the NFL. That’ll put his career total at 3,147 yards – good for first all-time among UT backs in career yardage, ahead of Travis Henry’s current career record of 3,078.
There are certainly several “ifs” in that scenario, but based on what he’s done in his career so far, it’s no stretch at all to see him getting there. Even if he plays just a portion of the 2016 season, he’s still on pace to leave as one UT’s top-10 most productive runners in school history. If he were to stay healthy and stay all four years? It’s a virtual certainty that he would break almost every rushing record in the books for UT.
Butch Jones has preached a game-by-game mentality for the Vols, and that’s all Hurd will be focused on as the Vols prepare to take on Vanderbilt. But it’s easy to take a quick look down the road and see that Hurd very well could leave with numbers that will put him among, if not at the top, of all the great backs that have played for the Vols.