Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd intends to continue his career at a different school, UT coach Butch Jones confirmed on Monday.
"I met with Jalen Hurd this morning. We had a conversation and we had a great relationship. He has informed me that he intends to transfer," Jones said during a news conference. "I support him on that."
Hurd, a junior, told teammates on Sunday night that he plans to transfer and play receiver or tight end at his new school, per radio show host Jimmy Hyams of WNML in Knoxville, Tenn. Hyams reported that Hurd is unhappy with how he's been used in Tennessee's offense.
"I think it's a combination of a long football season, and contemplating that," Jones said. "I don't want to speak for Jalen. There are a lot of things that go into that decision. I value our relationship and have a lot of respect for that young man, and wish him nothing but the best."
Hurd entered the 2016 season as one of the SEC's top running backs. While this season has been a disappointing one for Hurd given the expectations for him coming into the year, changing positions would be a surprising move. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein is among those puzzled by the reports.
Hurd has been plagued by injuries this year and hasn't been as effective as he was in past seasons. He's rushed 122 times for 451 yards (3.7 average) and 3 touchdowns through 7 games this season. He's listed at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, so he has rare size, whether he's playing running back or receiver. He hasn't been a prolific pass-catcher (averaging 2 receptions per game for his career), but does have good hands.
A transfer isn't his only option after the season, of course. He will be eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft if he applies for and is granted early eligibility. Underclassmen like Hurd have until a mid-January deadline to apply for early eligibility.
Tennessee's season, which once looked so promising, is unraveling, as the Vols have lost 3 games in a row, and they're taking another hit with the news about their leading rusher.