Tennessee football has gained its second commitment in as many days from the same high school. Briarcrest Christian 3-star running back Jabari Small announced on Twitter that he has committed to the Volunteers.
Small’s teammate, 4-star defensive tackle Omari Thomas, committed yesterday and immediately became the second highest ranked player in the recruiting class. Thomas and Small were considered a potential package deal, so Small got the go-ahead from the staff to put on the orange and white.
He was previously committed to Ole Miss for around 4 months before Matt Luke was fired. That decision, along with Thomas’ commitment, gave Small an opportunity to reconsider his recruitment.
Small does live up to his name in one aspect. He only registers at 5-10 and 190 pounds, which is certainly leaning towards the smaller side of SEC running backs. Predictably, you can see that much of his success is based on outrunning defenders rather than trying to plow through them.
247Sports has his 40-yard dash at 4.58 officially. That’s a decent mark and his tape seems to back it up. More importantly however, Small has very good acceleration compared to a lot of other backs. He reaches top speed almost immediately. Small might not outrun a defensive back in a pure sprint down the sidelines, but he will get past them with a sudden burst of speed that leaves defenders chasing him from behind. It can also make him look slippery in a lot of clips. Though that won’t be as apparent at the next level.
I’m interested in seeing how they use Small in the passing game. He has great hands and looks natural as a slot receiver, if that’s the route they want to go down. However he could be just as impactful as a receiving back too. Tennessee’s running back room is fairly deep for the next couple of years, but Small could get early playing time if he adapts to this role quickly.
Would Small be a take if Thomas wasn’t committed already? Hard to say. From a talent standpoint, Small is certainly a Tennessee caliber player. The questions arise when you look at how the Volunteers already have 3-star running back Tee Hodge committed and 3-star athlete Darion Williamson on board. Is it a good use of space to take on a second (and potentially third) running back? The staff appears to think so.