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Tennessee Running Back Jaylen Wright Earns Senior Bowl Invitation

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

After declaring for the NFL Draft last week, Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright is setting his sights on the next level. The junior running back earned an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl this week as shown in a video posted to social media by Tennessee Athletics.

Wright’s path to the NFL will not include playing in the Citrus Bowl against Iowa as the North Carolina native opted out of the game during his NFL Draft announcement.

Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton is also headed to the Senior Bowl in 2024, which is set to take place in Mobile, Alabama on Feb. 3, 2024.

More from RTI: Where Tennessee Football’s Recruiting Class Ranks After Opening Day Of Early Signing Period

When he first arrived in Knoxville before his freshman season in 2021, Wright was a track-style runner who wanted to outrun everyone on the field like he did in high school. Over his three seasons in Knoxville, though, Wright turned into one of the conference’s top complete backs. Wright has the vision, the patience, the burst, the downhill speed, and the finesse that it takes to be successful at the next level.

All of those traits combined together during the 2023 season to produce a statistical year on Rocky Top that hasn’t been seen in quite a few years.

Wright finished the year with 1,013 rushing yards to become Tennessee’s first 1,000-yard rusher since the 2015 season with Jalen Hurd. Perhaps the most eye-opening statistic from Wright’s season was his 7.4 yards per carry mark on just 137 carries this past season. Wright also totaled 141 receiving yards and four rushing touchdowns on the season.

Wright’s best work this past season came against SEC competition. The junior running back went for 120 yards against Kentucky, 136 yards against Texas A&M, and 123 yards against South Carolina. Wright went for more than 100 rushing yards in six games this year against UConn, Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Austin Peay, and Virginia.

“Man, there’s a lot of things that he’s grown in just off the field,” head coach Josh Heupel said of Wright after the Vols’ regular-season finale against Vanderbilt. “I think just his maturity and how he continues to come into the building every single day, the mindset, and very consistent in his habits. On the field, it’s just understanding of the run game, base on the defenses that you’re seeing. He started out as an elite talent that was really fast, that could or wanted to run to around everybody. He’s a real running back that understands how to use the guys in front of him.”

Tennessee has had several Senior Bowl participants during Heupel’s three years in Knoxville with Milton and Wright only adding to the list. Other notable former Tennessee participants include Velus Jones Jr., Cade Mays, Byron Young, and Darnell Wright.

The 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl will take place on Saturday, February 3, at 1:00 p.m. ET in Mobile, Alabama’s Hancock Whitney Stadium.

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