HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – After a junior year in which he broke the Tennessee state record for rushing yards while leading his team to a 15-0 state championship season, Jalen Hurd’s senior year hasn’t gone the way he envisioned it. Fortunately everything else is going exactly according to plan.
Hurd accepted his Army All-American jersey in front of a school assembly on Wednesday.
Hurd injured his shoulder during his team’s first game of the season and will miss the entirety of the season due to surgery. But beyond this season, the future remains bright for the Hendersonville (Tenn.) Beech product. A planned early enrollee at Tennessee, Hurd has one stop to make before heading to Knoxville and that’s to fulfill his dream of being a U.S. Army All-American.
Though he won’t be in pads, Hurd will be in San Antonio on the sideline during the NBC-televised broadcast of the All-American Bowl. On Wednesday morning, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William Carter made Hurd’s inclusion in the prestigious bowl official and Hurd noted that it was the fulfillment of a dream he’s had since childhood.
“From ever since I was ten years old I always wanted to play in this game and I was working my butt off every day just to be an All-American. That I’m labeled that and I’m going to this game, I feel so great.
“It’s amazing. It’s probably one of the biggest blessings I’ve had so far in my life. I want to thank God for allowing me just to do this and for putting me on the pedestal that I’m on. I just feel very honored.”
While Hurd is flattered to be part of a game that has included the likes of Adrian Peterson, Andrew Luck and many of the NFL’s best, he is more excited about what the Army game stands for.
“It makes it ten times better just because it’s affiliated with the Army because the Army, all they do for us just to keep us safe every day, I can’t be more thankful for them,” he said.
As tough as it will be for Hurd to sit on the sidelines, injured, watching a game that he has always dreamt of playing in, it has been equally as difficult to watch his Beech team this fall as he goes through his rehab. The good news is that Hurd expects to be back and ready to compete at Tennessee in the fall with his rehab going even better than expected.
“The first two to three weeks, it was mild stuff and I was just doing light stretching, getting a little bit of movement back” he said of his rehab. “When I hit the month mark, I’ve been doing bands and active rehab and they’ve been really digging in my shoulder trying to get some scar tissue out. It hasn’t been too fun but I’m just trying to get back out there and be in there at UT.”
When asked about his future plans at the University of Tennessee, the excitement is evident. Only a few short months from being enrolled as a student, Hurd is counting the days and his excitement has only been fanned by the success Tennessee has had on the field of late.
“I’ve been ecstatic,” he said of the Tennessee season. “It’s been awesome. Coach (Butch) Jones had about a month to recruit his class before he came to UT. It’s been amazing what he’s done with his recruiting class and with the talent that’s coming in, we’ll be in the running next year.”
As for his own expectations, Hurd has his eye on spring practice as an opportunity to fight for a starting job and his goal is to make an impact from day one.
“I definitely expect to play a lot,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m going to start. I hope that I start but I definitely expect to play a lot because I’m going to go in there and I’m going to work my butt off. I’m going to be doing extra work. I’m going to show the coaches what I’m about.”
Hurd could never play a down at Tennessee and his impact has already been felt. The Volunteers are putting together an outstanding recruiting class in 2014 and Hurd is currently the highest rated commitment on board. More importantly though, he’s one of the earliest pledges. That early confidence was a big referendum for Butch Jones and helped open the flood gates for the Vols and a class that is currently ranked by 247Sports in the top five nationally.
“I saw the plans that he had and I knew that if he told this speech to anybody else that they were going to jump on board,” he said of Jones. “I knew that if I jumped on board, I could help them jump on board. Me, [Todd Kelly] and Vic (Wharton), we could all have a play in what other people thought and we have and it’s been awesome.”