Tennessee Running Back Named To Doak Walker Award Watch List

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    (Photo by Tennessee Athletics)

    Tennessee running back Jabari Small was named to the Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List Wednesday.

    Small was one of 83 players—13 from the SEC— that made the watch list for the nation’s best running back award.

    Tennessee lost 90% of its rushing yards from running backs last season as both Eric Gray and Ty Chandler transferred following the season.

    Small impressed in his freshman season as the Vols back. The 6-foot, 200 pound back recorded 117 yards on 26 carries.

    Small’s 4.5 yards per carry was just slightly worse than Chandler’s 4.6 yards and Gray’s 4.9 yards per carry.

    The Memphis, Tennessee native also hauled in four catches for 24 yards in the 10-game 2020 season.

    While Tennessee lost two transfers that were also named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List, Josh Heupel and the Vols feel like they have strong replacements.

    “Our running backs have to be great with the football in their hands,” Heupel said Tuesday at SEC Media Days. “That is a position that we’re relatively young at, were hit by the transfer portal, but really like the guys that we have on campus.”

    With Small’s play on the field last season and a strong spring practice, the former Briarcrest Christian star has submitted himself as one of the Vols’ main tailbacks.

    Who else does so between Tee Hodge, Tiyon Evans, Dee Beckwith and Jaylen Wright will be something to watch when the Vols’ open fall practice in less than two weeks.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.