The Vols currently don’t have any running backs committed in the 2020 signing class (or in their 2019 class), but they have offered a handful of prospects at that position. And they just extended an offer Tuesday to an under-the-radar back from Kentucky.
Landen Bartleson is a three-star running back from Danville, Kentucky. Early Tuesday, he tweeted that he is “blessed and honored to receive an offer from the University of Tennessee.”
— Landen Bartleson (@lbb_5) September 18, 2018
Tennessee marks the fifth offer for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound back. They join the likes of Purdue, Louisville, Colorado and Kentucky. Per the 247Sports Composite rankings, he is the 7th-best player in the state, as well as the 525th ranked player in the 2019 class and 46th ranked running back.
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The powerful athlete is currently in his junior season at Boyle County high school, and he has been one of the top players in their region. He has showed off his skill as both a running back and defensive back, adding several interceptions to his already impressive rushing stats. Coaches say that oftentimes the best players in high school make plays on both sides of the ball, and Bartleson has certainly has done just that.
While he only runs a 4.64 second 40-yard dash, so he doesn’t quite have breakaway speed, but that is not his style as a runner. He moves well, and he’s very quick laterally, which helps him create a lot of missed tackles at the second level. He is a powerful runner, and he has a good leg drive, which is complemented by his large frame. He is a patient back, allowing his blocks to align before hitting the hole. He has a bad habit of dancing too much in the backfield sometimes instead of running downhill, but that is something that will improve with maturity. Overall he is an exciting prospect, and he presents a threat as both a runner and a pass catcher, bringing additional value as a third down back.
As a sophomore last year, Bartleson ran for 1,143 yards and 20 touchdowns on 159 carries and caught eight passes for 78 yards and three scores according to MaxPreps. On defense, he totaled 43 tackles, three tackles for loss, an interception (that he returned for a score), six passes defended, two fumble recoveries, and three blocked kicks. In five games as a junior this season, he’s totaled 324 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on just 56 carries, and he’s made 15 tackles, an interception, and two passes defended on defense.
Not only does Bartleson play football, but he also runs track in high school and has been productive there too.
Tennessee will have to fight off two in-state teams for his services, but they obviously see something they like in Bartleson. He hasn’t had a lot of national exposure yet, and he is the type of player that could see his stock rise a lot in the next year. It’s good for the Vols that they got in early for him.