4. Running backs
Last year, behind a horrendous offensive line, Tennessee football still managed to use its best offensive weapon in Ty Chandler. For the year, Chandler averaged five and a half yards a carry, getting 115 rushes for 630 yards.
Chandler added 19 receptions for 183 yards and scored seven total touchdowns, including becoming the first UT running back aver to have three receiving touchdowns in three straight games. Behind him, Tim Jordan was a mark of stability with 522 rushing yards, 116 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Those two alone give the Vols a good starting point under David Johnson, who moved from receivers coach to running backs coach, replacing Chris Weinke as he became quarterbacks coach. Jim Chaney’s desire to use his playmakers and Jeremy Pruitt’s desire to run a by-committee set makes it easier with Chandler and Jordan.
Meanwhile, Carlin Fils-Aime has moved back to running back full-time. He’s another fundamental back. Jeremy Banks, once a four-star recruit, is a power back who fumbled a bit too much last year and then moved to linebacker. But he plays hard, and with Madre London gone, he’s back in to fill that power back role. Four-star commitment Eric Gray provides more depth as a speedster.
With Chandler and Jordan proven, the only real need to make this unit complete is for Banks to take another step. That’s all we have keeping it from being closer to the top of the list. Overall, though, if the blocking improves, Chaney will have a great starting point for another solid rushing attack.