- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. -- As a sophomore, Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech Senior) rushed for around 1,600 yards. Coming into his junior season, the talented running back set his goal a little higher, right around 2,000 yards.
After a 299-yard, two-touchdown performance in a win over Mount Juliet last Friday, Hurd now has more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns through five games. And the 6-foot-3 back rushed for 462 yards in one game. What has been the biggest difference?
“Over the winter, I really worked on getting bigger, and when it came close to summertime, I really focused on getting my 40-time down,” Hurd said. “Last year, I was running around a 4.55, and I dropped down, I ran a 4.37 at a combine at Ole Miss. I was really shocked about that.”
The hard work has paid off, and Hurd is seeing it translate to recruiting as well. He earned his first scholarship offer from Vanderbilt in the spring, and after Florida offered Wednesday he is up to 14 offers.
Just a junior, Hurd already has a top three of Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.
“They’ve shown me a lot of interest so far,” he said. “There’s certain things that I like about them.
Alabama: “It speaks for itself. They’re coming off a national championship win. Obviously, they’re showing why they are No. 1 right now in the country. They haven’t lost yet, and they’re demolishing teams.
Ohio State: “Urban Meyer, he’s a great coach. He’s doing a great job right now. They’re also undefeated. I see him doing a great job at that program. He did a great job at Florida, and I’ve seen how he’s taken Braxton Miller under his wing and turned him into a great quarterback.
Georgia: “I know they have a history of running backs. They have six running backs in the NFL. The great Herschel Walker went there. A lot of great running backs come through Georgia. They give them carries and turn them into greatness.”
Other schools who have shown serious interest in Hurd include Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
The only question is: Will he stick to running back when he gets to the next level? Of his top three schools, Georgia and Ohio State like him as a running back, but Alabama is recruiting him as an athlete.
“[Alabama] is the one who said we’ll recruit you as an athlete,” Beech Senior coach Anthony Crabtree said. “They told him they would give him a chance to play running back, but if that’s not working out, they’re going to do whatever is best for both of them.”
Hurd considers the Crimson Tide one of his top options, but he admits that he wants to play running back at the next level.
“Athlete is something I don’t mind being labeled and being recruited to go to that college to play because I can come in and prove my point of what I can play and what I can’t play,” Hurd said. “It’s not that big of a deal, but I may show other schools a little more interest because they’re recruiting me as a running back.
“I’m trying to prove the point that I’m a big guy, and I can run the ball. I’m just trying to show that by my stats.”
Through five games, it’s safe to say Hurd is proving his point. He might reach his goal of 2,000 yards in Friday night’s game against White House High School. The state record is 3,068 yards, though Hurd has his sights set a little higher. He wants 4,000 yards this season.
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