Former Maryland running back Justus Pickett announced via twitter that he plans to transfer to Tennessee. Unless somehow the Junior running back is granted a waiver to play by the NCAA, he will likely sit out next season and compete for playing time in 2014.
The move may come as a surprise to Tennessee fans. With the 2013 and 2014 classes included, Pickett will likely compete with five other running backs, including then-Senior Marlin Lane and top prospect Jalen Hurd.
With no guarantee for a starting position, why would a junior running back decide to transfer and risk a season of eligibility? Perhaps the Tennessee coaching staff is much higher on Pickett than the Maryland staff.
Pickett played limited time while at Maryland from the running back position. His career totals were 416 yards on 143 carries and four touchdowns. Pickett also saw time on special teams returning kicks for the Terps. He totaled 30 career returns and 568 total yards.
It’s not a guarantee that he won’t have a chance to compete when granted eligibility, but more a matter of the likelihood he will outshine the other UT running backs. If Marlin Lane stays for his senior season, he will have seen playing time during four straight years, making him the most experienced back on the Vols roster.
Hurd, on the other hand, is gathering a huge amount of hype amongst Tennessee fans. The running back is currently the top high school player in the state of Tennessee and the prize of the Vols’ highly ranked recruiting class for 2014.
Both players will be given an early advantage in the running back competition. Pickett’s experience may help against the younger backs, but Hurd will definitely be an early favorite to receive a large portion of carries from the Tennessee backfield.
Pickett will likely serve as a kick returner for Tennessee, while possibly receiving a few carries from the backfield behind Lane and Hurd, if ineligible next season. If he is granted a waiver, he will still likely sit behind veteran backs Raijon Neal and Lane, while serving a major role on special teams.