On Tuesday of last week, freshman running back Jeremy Banks was moved over to defense and started practicing at linebacker. Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said after practice on Wednesday that Banks himself requested the move, and that the freshman was already picking things up quickly.
But on Tuesday of this week, exactly a week after he was moved to linebacker, Banks was back with the running back group at practice.
Jeremy Pruitt was asked about that decision during his appearance on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference, and he explained the move.
“We’ve just got a couple of guys banged up, and we want to make sure that we’ve got enough running backs to finish the year,” Pruitt explained. “We probably have a little more depth at linebacker right now than we do at running back, so we just want to make sure we’ve got enough guys to finish the year.”
Tennessee has used mostly just sophomores Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan out of the backfield since entering SEC play this season, though grad transfer Madre London has received some work and junior Carlin Fils-aime was moved back to running back last week. But it’s likely that Pruitt is speaking about Chandler and Jordan when talking about players being banged up at the running back position.
Chandler left Saturday’s game against South Carolina with a minor injury, but he returned later in the contest. But he and Jordan have been the workhorses for the Vols’ rushing attack this season, carrying the ball a combined 176 times for 768 yards while adding a combined 28 receptions for 253 yards.
London was brought in to be a veteran presence in a very inexperienced backfield this season. He’s totaled 39 carries for 200 yards and is tied for the team lead with three rushing touchdowns on the season. But he’s had just six carries for a total of one yard in Tennessee’s last three games.
Fils-aime came to Tennessee as a running back, but Pruitt and his staff decided to move him to defensive back in the spring. But with Banks being moved to linebacker, Pruitt elected to switch Fils-aime back to running back. The junior made his presence immediately felt on Saturday, tallying three carries for 20 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown run.
Pruitt didn’t specify if or when Banks would return to practicing with the linebackers this season.
Banks didn’t play on defense against South Carolina last weekend, but he did appear on special teams like he has most of this season. He made a special teams tackle against Alabama, but those are his only defensive stats this year.