Tennessee has taken advantage of the NCAA transfer portal ever since it opened up, and head coach Jeremy Pruitt has used it to bring in several talented players to UT’s roster. Now, the Vols could be in line to add another transfer this offseason.
Running back Chase Hayden, the son of former Vol standout Aaron Hayden, has scheduled an official visit to Tennessee according to his father via Woody Wommack of Rivals.com. Chase announced his intent to transfer from Arkansas earlier this year and has two years of eligibility remaining. Hayden is also a grad transfer, so he can play immediately wherever he transfers to.
Hayden will visit Tennessee on April 4th. He also has official visits set up for Houston (March 20th) and Indiana (March 27th).
Coming out of high school, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound back was a four-star prospect and one of the top recruits in the state of Tennessee. Hayden won both the Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball awards as a senior at St. George’s Independent School in Collierville, TN. Hayden committed to Arkansas under then-head coach Bret Bielema and signed with the Hogs.
In his first year with the Razorbacks, Hayden ran for 326 yards and four touchdowns on 61 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per rush. But a season-ending injury cut his freshman campaign short, and he missed the second half of the 2017 season. In his second year, Hayden bounced back from his injury and still managed to be productive as the Hogs’ third running back, totaling 251 rushing yards and a touchdown on 57 attempts while catching 11 passes for 61 yards in new head coach Chad Morris’ offense.
Hayden only appeared in four games in 2019, carrying the ball 12 times for 39 yards and catching four passes for 12 yards. That allowed Hayden to get a redshirt and save a year of eligibility, which gives him two years to play wherever he transfers.
According to Mike Farrell, the National Recruiting Director for Rivals, Hayden can be a “very solid contributor” at a Power Five program over the next two years.
“Hayden is an attractive running back on the transfer market because he can catch the ball out of the backfield and can make opponents miss in space,” Farrell says. “Out of high school we liked his feet and burst which is why he was a Rivals250 prospect but he also had solid size for an all-purpose back. He showed flashes at Arkansas of his ability and he can be a very solid contributor for a Power Five program.”
Farrell gives Hayden an “impact rating” of 6.6 out of 10. According to Rivals’ impact meter, a prospect in the 6.1-9.0 range is a “high impact player who won’t change a program but will certainly be a very good contributor and starter.” Hayden is on the lower end of that rating, but Farrell believes the veteran back still has plenty left to give to another school.
Tennessee’s running back room, as it stands right now, is very crowded and will only continue to get more crowded in the summer and fall.
The Vols currently have four scholarship running backs on the roster this spring, and they will welcome in three more running backs as part of their 2020 signing class over the summer and fall. Tennessee is also still pursuing five-star running back Zach Evans in the 2020 cycle.
Hayden totaled 616 rushing yards and five scores on 130 carries at Arkansas. He also caught 16 passes for 96 yards and returned two kicks.
Hayden’s father, Aaron Hayden, was a standout back for the Vols in the early 1990s. The elder Hayden totaled 2,061 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 393 carries from 1991-94. He was selected in the fourth round of the 1995 NFL Draft and played for the San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.