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Tennessee Star Running Back Declares For NFL Draft, Opts Out Of Citrus Bowl

Jaylen Wright
Tennessee RB Jaylen Wright. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee junior running back Jaylen Wright declared for the NFL Draft on Friday, foregoing his final season of eligibility in Knoxville. Wright will not play in the Vols’ Citrus Bowl matchup against Iowa, according to a UT Spokesperson.

The junior running back hard a tremendous final season in Knoxville, becoming Tennessee’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2015. Wright totaled 1,013 yards on just 137 carries for a remarkable 7.4 yards per carry while finding the end zone four times.

Wright was a part of Tennessee’s running back rotation all three years of his college career but most prominently during the 2022 and 2023 seasons. As a sophomore, Wright led Tennessee with 875 yards and was second on the team with 10 rushing touchdowns.

More From RTI: Tennessee Defensive Linemen Leads SEC In Pass Rushing Stat

Senior running back Jabari Small hasn’t announced his decision on whether or not he will return for his super senior season or whether he’ll play in the Citrus Bowl. If neither Wright nor Small play, Tennessee will rely on sophomore running back Dylan Sampson and freshman running back Cameron Seldon.

Being without Wright is a major loss for Tennessee in the bowl game and for the 2024 season though neither the news is a surprise given the Durham, North Carolina native’s stellar season and the nature of the running back position.

Iowa boasts one of the Big 10’s best run defenses and will provide a major challenge for whichever running backs play for Tennessee.

Kickoff between Tennessee and Iowa is at 1 p.m. ET on New Years Day at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. ABC is broadcasting the bowl matchup.

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