It’s been a year since Jalen Hurd has been on the football field for an actual game of college football. But that will change this fall when he takes the field for Baylor at his new position at wide receiver.
Hurd elected to leave Tennessee’s roster mid-season in 2016 after the Vols lost to South Carolina on the road that year. Hurd finished his Vol career only a few hundred yards shy of breaking the career rushing record at Tennessee, and Vol fans had very mixed reactions to his decision to leave the program and how the situation played out.
Some blamed Hurd for leaving the team, citing his attitude and dramatic personality. Others blamed head coach Butch Jones and the staff for making empty promises to Hurd and his family and not living up to their end of the deal. There were fans who blamed both parties involved for what transpired.
Whoever is to blame, Hurd’s decision stands, and he’s now at Baylor. And he was asked about that during a media availability session on Friday on Baylor’s campus.
Hurd, who played running back for Tennessee but now is a receiver in Baylor’s system, was asked about the biggest differences between Baylor’s coaching staff and the coaching staff he had at Tennessee. And the former five-star prospect from the mid-state area of Tennessee was very candid with his response.
“They’re straight up, so I respect that 100 percent,” Hurd said of Baylor’s coaches. “They’ve been straight up with me since the day I stepped on this campus. That’s what you want as a player is for them to be straight up with you. They run a strict ship here, and I respect that.”
One school of thought among many fans during the fallout of Hurd’s decision to transfer from UT was that Jones and his staff lied to Hurd about his usage on offense and kept him on the field during games even when he was hurt. Hurd didn’t clarify if any of those rumors were true, but he did mention that part of the appeal of switching from running back to receiver was to keep his body healthier.
“My body wasn’t really feeling that well at running back,” Hurd stated. “I had a lot of injuries at Tennessee. The switch has been great for me to rest my body, and I’ll be able to play a lot longer I think at this position.”
Though Hurd was only officially held out of one game in his Tennessee career due to injury (Texas A&M 2016), rumors circulated that he sustained multiple injuries in his final year with the Vols, especially during the Georgia and South Carolina games. Hurd didn’t confirm nor deny those rumors.
The 6-foot-4, 240 pound Hurd called his year off from football “humbling” and said he put in a lot of work on Baylor’s scout team last year as he sat out the season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“I was learning the game, I was learning how to move in and out of my cuts,” Hurd said of last season. “I was still working and working on my hands and everything like that.”
This year will mark Hurd’s last year of college football, and he’ll be attempting to show NFL scouts and coaches what he can do at his new position. He finished his Tennessee career with 2,635 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, but he also caught 67 passes for 492 yards and six scores for the Vols.
Time will tell what kind of receiver Hurd turns out to be. But he doesn’t seem to look back on his time at Tennessee very fondly judging from his comments on Friday.