Stop me if you’ve heard this before — a former Tennessee football player is off to a hot start in the NFL after getting away from Butch Jones.
Jones went 9-4 in 2016 with a roster that featured former NFL players like Derek Barnett, Rashaan Gaulden, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Alvin Kamara, John Kelly, Josh Dobbs and Cameron Sutton.
During the first week of the preseason, Jalen Hurd and Preston Williams joined that group. Both players transferred out of Knoxville during that season, landing at Baylor and Colorado State, respectively.
Hurd went on to reinvent himself, putting his 6-4, 230 pound frame to better use at a receiver for Matt Rhule. He went on to catch 69 passes for nearly 1,000 yards, scoring seven total touchdowns. After taking criticism for the transfer, Hurd ended up going early in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
On Saturday night, he caught two touchdowns in his debut for the San Francisco 49ers.
Oh, what that 2016 team could have been.
It’s impossible to argue with Hurd’s decision to leave the Tennessee football program. He felt he had more longevity as a pass catcher, and frankly he looks to have more upside as one too.
Just to turn the knife a little more, Preston Williams looked downright dominant in his debut with the Dolphins, catching four balls for 97 yards.
For as much criticism as Butch Jones gets, he did assemble a team talented enough to contend for a national title in 2016 — honestly 2015, too. But his total mismanagement of that group is the reason he’s an analyst for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa right now.