The Tennessee Vols lost numerous key players from their 2020 team, which is obviously going to have a negative impact on the program’s depth at various positions.
While this means the Vols could have several unproven players on the field at times, it also means that younger players could see earlier playing time than they normally would.
One of those players could be true freshman running back Jaylen Wright, a player that 247Sports is predicting will be Tennessee’s true freshman that breaks out in 2021.
“JUCO transfer Tiyon Evans has drawn a lot of headlines at this position, but Wright brings something to the field that no other back on the roster does: Game-changing speed,” writes 247Sports’ Chris Hummer.
“Wright is a state champion track athlete and has been timed at 10.85 seconds in the 100-meter dash,” added Hummer. “Wright has the potential to add a little pop to the Vols backfield if he can adjust quickly.”
Wright is a former three-star recruit who signed with the Vols during the early signing period in December. The North Carolina native enrolled at UT in January, just as Jeremy Pruitt was fired as the Vols’ head coach.
The young running back is a good fit in Josh Heupel’s offense — he’s definitely a player that Tennessee will want to get in space.
But Wright won’t automatically see playing time just because he’s ridiculously fast. He still has some things to work on before Tennessee can trust him — specifically pass protection.
“For a young guy, especially from a protection standpoint, when you come to college, the protections have been really just blowing his mind a little bit,” said Vols running backs coach Jerry Mack recently while discussing Wright with reporters.
“You can just tell right now, even though he’s struggling here and struggling there, his flashes are big, huge flashes,” added Mack. “You can ask anybody on the field, when he gets to that next level and he gets an opportunity to get in space, he can make people miss.”
It’s clear that Wright has the potential to be an offensive game-breaker for the Vols — he’s likely going to be a headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
But will he be the true freshman that has the biggest breakout season for Tennessee?
247Sports certainly believes that will be the case.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications