KNOXVILLE - A number of Tennessee Volunteers football players addressed media members on Tuesday for the first time since running back Jalen Hurd’s departure.
Tennessee Vols quarterback Joshua Dobbs, defensive end Derek Barnett, safety Todd Kelly Jr. and offensive lineman Brett Kendrick said Tuesday afternoon the team is moving on from Hurd’s decision to transfer.
“We wish him the best for sure,” Dobbs said. “It was obviously upsetting, but then my focus is just on the guys that are here.”
On Tuesday, Kelly repeatedly said the Vols “need to move on” after Hurd’s decision. Kelly said other players would need to step up with Hurd’s absence.
“We wish him the best. He did a lot for us,” Barnett said. “That's just one player, so it’s not going to ruin a team.”
“Jalen did all he could for us while he was here,” Kendrick said. “Obviously, he was huge for us last year and to start this year, but we’re just going to move on with the guys we have.”
Kendrick said “he has all the confidence in the world” in running back John Kelly, who is Saturday’s presumed starter with Hurd’s departure and Alvin Kamara out against Tennessee Tech with an injury.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best backs in the SEC,” Kendrick said of Kelly. “He’s a great running back. He’s really going to get a chance this week to prove himself.
Kelly has more than 100 yards from scrimmage in two games this season, against South Carolina and against Texas A&M. The sophomore running back had 14 rushing attempts for 94 yards, and a reception for 17 yards against South Carolina. Kelly had 13 rushing attempts for 89 yards, and a reception for 12 yards against Texas A&M.
Other than the South Carolina and Texas A&M games, Kelly hasn’t had more than four touches in any other game this season.
Tennessee (5-3, 2-3 SEC) is on a three-game losing streak entering Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech.
Barnett, Kelly, Kendrick and Dobbs spoke about a team meeting held Sunday.
“I think it just kind of helped our team come together a little bit more,” Kelly said. “Whatever needed to be resolved or brought up was brought up in that meeting, and now people are held accountable for what they need to do.
“Everyone is trying to do one thing to try to make this team a better team overall.”
Kendrick said he learned of Hurd’s decision after Sunday’s meeting.
Tennessee hosts Tennessee Tech at Neyland Stadium at 4 p.m. ET Saturday. The game airs on the SEC Network Alternate Channel.
Saturday marks Tennessee’s 100th Homecoming, and the football team's 93rd Homecoming game.
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