Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright is gearing up for his first season of collegiate football. And as he prepares both on and off the field, Wright zeroed in on one NFL player, in particular, to model his game after. And that NFL player just so happened to be former Tennessee Vol Alvin Kamara.
After Tennessee’s seventh fall camp practice on Wednesday morning, Wright spent a few minutes with the media and discussed some of the biggest storylines around week two of camp. While talking to the press, Wright explained that he understands why running backs in today’s game have to be so diverse on the field. He also explained how he is trying to add that into his own game.
“I really mimic my game after Alvin Kamara, and I know he does a lot of that,” Wright said, specifically referring to Kamara’s ability to be a pass-catching threat. “Going into the slot, running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield. And then I know that the more you catch, the more money you’re going to make.”
Jaylen Wright will shoulder a good amount of running responsibility for Tennessee this upcoming season despite his youth. Tennessee’s two leading rushers from 2020 transferred away, so the Vols will have plenty of production to make up on the ground. However, a need for production opens the door to opportunity, and Wright is ready to run through it.
“In the spring, it was a big adjustment to go through coming from high school,” Wright said about his first training camp in early 2021. “But two weeks in, I got used to it. I got used to the system, started running the ball good, and started making plays on the field.”
Former Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara didn’t become a four-time NFL Pro Bowler by being just another average back. Instead, Kamara, along with guys like Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook, have revolutionized their position with their hands. In the current world of football, a running back who can make a catch and make a play away from the backfield is incredibly advantageous.
Quarterbacks Joe Milton, Hendon Hooker, Harrison Bailey, and Brian Maurer all bring a different aspect of versatility to the table. However, whoever the starting quarterback is, they will need the running back room to contribute in several unique ways to catch opponents off-guard.
“The running game in this offense is very, very explosive,” Wright said on Wednesday. “[Our offense] can pass the ball, we can run… So really, it’s just a big-play offense and a high-powered offense.”
Coach Josh Heupel has been hard at work revamping a rushing attack that finished ninth in the SEC in total yards and yards per game in 2020. But as mentioned earlier, there is very little carryover between the 2020 unit and their philosophy with the 2021 unit and theirs.
Nevertheless, freshman running back Jaylen Wright is ready for that challenge for Tennessee while modeling his game after VFL Alvin Kamara.
Earlier this month, Kamara gave a shout-out to Tennessee during New Orleans Saints training camp. Kamara wore No. 6 for the day, rather than his normal No. 41, as a nod to Tennessee’s start to fall camp later that week.
Kamara also made an appearance at Tennessee during the 2021 spring game, which caught Jaylen Wright by complete surprise.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” Wright said after seeing Kamara in the Tennessee facility. “It was really crazy because I saw him in the locker room, and he was just, like, a regular guy. I saw him and shook his hand, and was like, ‘Oh my God, I am nervous.'”
If there is one thing that Wright had at that moment that he does not have on the field, though, it would be nerves.
“I didn’t take a picture,” Wright said with a laugh. “I was kind of nervous to ask.”
Catch up on the video highlights from Tennessee’s Wednesday morning practice, along with practice notes and observations, on Rocky Top Insider.