Rajion Neal is graduating. Tom Smith is transferring. Alden Hill hasn't been able to carve out a position near the top of the depth chart. Going into the 2014 season, the Vols options at running back looked like Marlin Lane, Marlin Lane, and more Marlin Lane. With Lane's injury history, that's not a good place to be. So coach Butch Jones and RB coach Robert Gillespie hit the recruiting trail.
Last March, they won a commitment from what may be the crown jewel of the recruiting class, in-state five-star prospect Jalen Hurd. Hurd, a 6'3", 230 pounds back, is already on campus and ready to go for spring practice. But he is coming off a shoulder injury that forced him to miss his senior season of high school. Fortunately, Hurd wasn't the only running back in the class. Tennessee also grabbed a commitment from three-star Treyvon Paulk, a 5'8", 200 pounder from Georgia who earned a fourth star from ESPN. But Paulk also missed his senior season, suffering a torn ACL that has led many to speculate that his first year at Tennessee may be a redshirt season dedicated to rehabbing the injury and reaping the benefits of a college strength and conditioning program.
With both running back commitments coming off injuries, the Vols were looking to add a third at the position. Enter Derrell Scott. The consensus four-star prospect from North Carolina was thought to be a Gamecock lean until the Vols turned up the pressure over the last few months, and the coaches' effort paid off with a commitment Monday afternoon. Scott, a 5'11", 180-pound all-purpose back, should compete immediately with Hurd and Lane for playing time. And while Lane is a senior and Hurd the shiny new five-star, Scott is plenty good enough to hold his own. 247sports lists him as the #3 all-purpose back in the nation, and he appears on both the 247sports Top247 and the ESPN300 lists, in the top 150 in each case.
As a smaller back known for his elusiveness and vision, he should provide a contrast with the bigger, more powerful Hurd and should help turn running back from a position of question marks to a position of strength for the Vols.
Scott is the 34th commitment in the Vols' 2014 recruiting class, and is the 16th with four stars in the 247 rankings. Tennessee currently sits sixth in the 247 national rankings and fourth in the SEC, although first in the SEC East, with Florida and Georgia following at nine and ten nationally. Scott also claimed offers from Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oregon, among others. Welcome to the family, Derrell!