Coming out of high school, Ty Chandler was one of the highest-rated running backs in the 2017 class. According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Chandler was a borderline top-50 overall prospect and was the No. 5 running back in the 2017 class.
So far, however, his UT career hasn’t gone quite as he hoped, moreso due to lack of team success than anything else. But one national writer views Chandler as one of the most underrated players in all of college football.
Brad Crawford of 247Sports put together a list of 10 players across Power Five programs who are the most underrated players in college football heading into the 2019 season. According to Crawford, the 10 players he chose aren’t getting as much attention as they probably deserve, and all 10 have the ability to be all-conference players.
“Not all positions are represented here, but each name listed has a chance to be an all-conference performer and help their respective team meet preseason goals, no matter how lofty those may be,” Crawford writes.
Among the 10 players listed is Tennessee’s junior running back, Ty Chandler.
The 5-foot-11, 201-pound Nashville native has flashed plenty of potential in his first two years at Tennessee, and he’s been very efficient in his limited action. The Vols’ leading returning rusher has been productive when healthy, and Crawford thinks Chandler could have a breakout junior campaign.
“Rarely mentioned among the nation’s best at his position, Chandler is the spark that makes the Tennessee offense go and averaged 5.5 yards per carry last fall with limited rushing touches (115 carries),” Crawford writes. “He scored a team-high seven touchdowns (four rushing, three receiving) and actually emerged as a viable receiving threat at a position of need for the Vols. The 5-foot-11, 201-pound tailback is tough between the tackles and delivers a hit despite his frame. With six offensive linemen returning with at least five career starts, Chandler will be running behind a veteran group that Tennessee hopes is a team strength. With more touches, Chandler should exceed 1,000 yards on a much-improved football team.”
Tennessee’s offensive line prevented the Vols’ rushing attack from doing as much damage as it could’ve in 2018, but Crawford clearly has optimism that UT’s 2019 unit will be much more serviceable. Considering the Vols’ offensive line was dead last in “stuff rate” last season and had arguably the worst run blocking O-line in the FBS, it can really only get better this upcoming season.
Despite the issues with the offensive line, Chandler was still productive as a sophomore. He became the first Vol running back in school history to catch a touchdown pass in three-straight games, and he eclipsed the 80-yard rushing mark four different times during the season, including a career-high 158 yards on 12 carries against UTEP.
Overall, Chandler totaled over 800 yards of offense with 630 rushing yards and 183 receiving yards. His numbers likely would’ve been even better if not for some early injuries, too. Chandler suffered a concussion early in Tennessee’s season-opening loss to West Virginia, and he sat out UT’s next game against ETSU. Chandler also only received two carries against Charlotte and sat out the majority of that contest.
Taking out those two games where Chandler totaled six carries for negative five yards, he actually totaled 635 rushing yards on 109 carries in nine games.
Chandler didn’t total all his yardage against weaker opponents either. He totaled 477 rushing yards and all 183 of his receiving yards against SEC foes, averaging 4.9 yards per carry in eight conference games last season. And he did all that while splitting time with several other backs in UT’s backfield.
Though he led the team in rushing yards, Chandler was actually out-touched by fellow sophomore Tim Jordan last season. Jordan carried the ball 132 times compared to Chandler’s 115 carries, and Jordan caught 12 passes as well. Jeremy Banks and Madre London also combined to carry the ball 94 times on the season.
With more touches, a 1,000-yard season in 2019 isn’t out of the question, as Crawford said. Chandler and the rest of UT’s backs will just need some better blocking to help out.
In his 23 total appearances in his Tennessee career, Chandler has totaled 935 rushing yards and 291 receiving yards, totaling nine offensive touchdowns and a kick return for a score. Chandler has a career average of 5.0 yards per carry.