Tennessee fans have found yet another reason to dislike former coach Butch Jones. This past weekend, former Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd who left the Tennessee program in mid season in 2016, transferred to Baylor as a wide receiver and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 67th pick. Hurd caught a touchdown pass in the Niners 17-9 win over the Cowboys. He was a very good running back at Tennessee but a lot of fans back then felt Hurd may have been out of position and he probably was.
At the same time, Hurd played ahead of Alvin Kamara who is now a star for the New Orleans Saints at running back.
Had Jones played Hurd at receiver, and played Kamara more at running back, the Vols may have won a lot more than they did. There are a few other examples of players not being played or developed properly but perhaps Jones biggest mishap came when the Vols were unable to sign current Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
It's a well known fact that Lawrence, who beat Alabama with 378 yards and four TD passes in the National Championship Game in January, grew up just outside of Johnson City and was a huge Tennessee fan who idolized Peyton Manning. He idolized Manning so much that he wears Manning's number 16 at Clemson. Butch Jones did recruit Lawrence and offered him a scholarship to Tennessee when he was a sophomore at Cartersville High School in North Georgia. Offering him a scholarship is just about all Jones did. There was never a real relationship developed with Lawrence who at one time had narrowed his choices to Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson.
The rest as they say is history. Lawrence was listed as the top prospect in the 2018 recruiting class as a sophomore, signed with Clemson and won the starting job four games into last season. NFL scouts are saying that if Lawrence were eligible for the draft last spring he would have been the top pick, hands down.
He is that good and he is currently considered to be one of the top two players in all of college football in 2019. (Tua Tagovailoa from 'Bama is the other.)
It's only fitting that it was Trevor Lawrence who totally dominated Alabama 44-16 and kept Butch Jones from getting a national championship ring in his "special consultant " role with the Tide last year. (Think back to pictures of Jones smoking that victory stogie when Alabama beat Tennessee in Knoxville last season.)
There may be more incidences of Jones failures at Tennessee but losing Trevor Lawrence could be the biggest. However, there is no way Lawrence would have signed with Tennessee after the coaching search debacle in late 2017. Lawrence is extremely happy at Clemson and I will admit he is where he needs to be. Hopefully, the next time a Trevor Lawrence comes along at the top pf a recruiting class, Coach Jeremy Pruitt will be able to land him.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com