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How Butch Jones Has Fared with Five-Star Talent

2014 Class

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Most of Jones’ five-star players have come from the 2014 and 2015 classes so far. The 2014 class saw Josh Malone and Jalen Hurd get a five-star rating by at least one recruiting service, and these two five-stars had very interesting careers at Tennessee.

Josh Malone failed to live up to the hype through his first two years as a Vol, catching just 54 passes for 636 yards and three touchdowns in his first two years in Knoxville. But Malone burst onto the scene this last season during his junior year, nearly doubling every single major category in just one season. Malone hauled in 50 catches for 972 yards and 11 scores in 13 games this season, finishing in the top 10 in both yards and touchdowns in a single season in school history. And after this season, Malone declared early for the NFL draft, forgoing his senior season to try his luck in the NFL.

Jalen Hurd, on the other hand, had an almost complete opposite trajectory to his career.

Hurd started out well his first two seasons at Tennessee, running for 899 yards and five scores while catching 35 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. Hurd followed that up with 1,285 rushing yards and 12 scores while bringing in 22 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore. Hurd needed less than 900 rushing yards heading into his junior season to become Tennessee’s all-time leading rusher, but after seven games into the season, Hurd announced he was transferring after rumors had been swirling about conflicts behind the scenes and chemistry issues with him and the team.

Hurd would finish 2016 with just 451 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 122 attempts.

Malone ended up panning out for Jones and the Vols, while Hurd started out with a bang and ended with an implosion. Hurd is more of a toss-up because of his contributions both on the field and in recruiting for the first few years at Tennessee, but how this last season played out ultimately leaves a very bad taste in the mouths of Vol fans.

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