Running back depth is suddenly not a strength of this Tennessee football program. After Tim Jordan’s dismissal and Carlin Fils-aime’s opt out, the Vols don’t have much experience behind Eric Gray and Ty Chandler.
In reality, Tennessee has four freshmen behind those top two — and two of those are dealing with injuries. Dee Beckwith has made the move to running back, but was unable to travel with the team to South Carolina for the opener.
Another freshman, Len’Neth Whitehead, hasn’t been able to practice due to an injury he suffered back in high school. The former four-star, top 100 athlete was expected to become a linebacker in Knoxville, but Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee staff want to see what he’s got at running back for now.
Unfortunately for him, he’s not been able to participate. But that’s starting to change.
“Len’Neth Whitehead, he started taking reps on the scout team this week,” Pruitt said this week. “That’s good to see. Hopefully as we kind of go over the next couple of weeks, he can get used to competing again. He’s had a long time off, so he’s going to need a couple of weeks to kind of build himself back up to give us another guy.”
Pruitt went on to mention two more freshmen, Jabari Small and Tee Hodge, as guys that could get more playing time going forward.
Depth is a key issue for every program in the country this year with uncertainty around every corner. We saw that depth put to the test immediately against South Carolina with Shawn Shamburger, Darel Middleton and Savion Williams as surprise inactives.
It could absolutely happen at running back too, so look for the Volunteers to get Small and Hodge some experience soon. Hopefully Whitehead is able to find the field later this fall.