The Vols have already added a couple grad transfers this offseason. Former Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst announced his intent to transfer to Tennessee last week, and Michigan kicker Ryan Tice announced earlier this week he intends to join the Vols’ roster as a grad transfer walk-on.
Tennessee is still pursuing other grad transfer players. And now it appears the Vols could be going after a grad transfer running back according to one regional writer.
Brad Shepard of Bleacher Report wrote a piece predicting where grad transfers would end up all across the country. And in that piece, he predicted that the Vols would pick up Clemson grad transfer running back C.J. Fuller.
The Vols don’t have a huge need at running back like they do at other positions, but they could use an experienced, big bodied back to support rising sophomore Ty Chandler. And Shepard thinks Fuller could be just that.
“Though picking any destination would be a complete guess right now without any solid information out there, there’s no fun in abstaining from a prediction, right?” Shepard prefaced his prediction. “It’s doubtful Fuller will transfer inside the ACC. He could wind up at Notre Dame where the Fighting Irish needs depth.
“But a guess right now is Tennessee, where the Vols lost John Kelly a year early to the NFL draft. New coach Jeremy Pruitt is transitioning to a pro-style offense and needs power-runners.”
At 5-foot-10, 215 pounds, Fuller has the ideal build for a power back in a pro-style offense. He’s slightly bigger overall than John Kelly was at Tennessee, but Kelly was an effective power back for the Vols down the stretch in 2016 and all during the 2017 season even with his smaller size.
Fuller was once a starter for Clemson at running back, but he eventually got passed over by younger, more talented players on the Tigers’ depth chart. In his three seasons with Clemson, Fuller totaled 599 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 147 carries and also caught 18 passes for 155 yards and two scores.
Right now, the Vols have plenty of depth at running back, but only one back truly fits the power back mold that Jeremy Pruitt and offensive coordinator Tyson Helton will likely run. True freshman Jeremy Banks is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and can pack a punch. But the rest of Tennessee’s scholarship running backs on the roster are below 6-feet tall and only one, Trey Coleman, is above 200 pounds.
The Vols have more pressing needs at other positions, but adding Fuller would make sense from a schematic standpoint.
“Maybe (Pruitt) needs offensive linemen more, but would he turn down a player of Fuller’s ilk?” Shepard writes. “If UT could make a run at Fuller, it would make a lot of sense for both sides, even if there hasn’t been any talk between the two parties yet that we know of.”
Fuller announced his intent to transfer out of Clemson in February of this year. He will graduate in the spring and can enroll at another school after that.