Vols’ Chan­dler shows his speed against Min­ers

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY DAVID COBB STAFF WRITER Con­tact David Cobb at dcobb@times­freep­ress.com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @DavidWCobb and on Face­book at face­book.com/vol­sup­date.

KNOXVILLE — Ty Chan­dler graced the cov­ers of col­lege foot­ball pre­view mag­a­zines around the re­gion this sum­mer, but other Ten­nessee run­ning backs grabbed head­lines for their per­for­mances in the Vol­un­teers’ first two games.

In a 24-0 win over Texas-El Paso on Satur­day at Ney­land Sta­dium, Chan­dler fi­nally got his chance to shine.

“It felt great. It’s just a bless­ing to be back out there,” Chan­dler, a sopho­more, said af­ter lead­ing the Vols with 158 yards on 12 car­ries against the Min­ers. “Man, I was ex­cited to be out there and play­ing with those guys and do­ing my part, do­ing every­thing I can.”

Ten­nessee’s run­ning game has blos­somed into a com­mit­tee ef­fort through the first three games of the sea­son. In a sea­son-open­ing loss to West Vir­ginia, sopho­more Tim Jor­dan ran for 118 yards on 20 car­ries. Against East Ten­nessee State the fol­low­ing week, grad­u­ate trans­fer Madre Lon­don and fresh­man Jeremy Banks im­pressed with two touch­downs each as the Vols cruised to vic­tory.

Chan­dler, mean­while, watched from the side­line. He went through warmups be­fore the ETSU game but did not play as the coaches took a cau­tious ap­proach af­ter he suf­fered an ap­par­ent head in­jury in the first half of the West Vir­ginia game. The staff knew Chan­dler’s tal­ent, but his sea­son stat ledger stalled at mi­nus4 yards rush­ing on four car­rries from the opener.

“It was tough, but it’s just fight­ing through ad­ver­sity,” Chan­dler said. “I’ve got good team­mates en­cour­ag­ing me to get back out there, ready to get back out there. I was just able to fight through, man, keep push­ing, just keep mov­ing for­ward. I’m glad it paid off.”

The run­ning back com­mit­tee is earn­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for its bruis­ing style, but it’s Chan­dler’s speed that sets him apart. The former Nashville Mont­gomery Bell Academy foot­ball and track stand­out flashed his quick­ness on an 81-yard touch­down scam­per down the left side­line on the first play of Satur­day’s sec­ond half.

“Ty is a guy that is a pretty in­stinc­tive run­ner,” Ten­nessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said. “He has good vi­sion, but he (also) has good speed. So he got out there and did a good job fin­ish­ing that run.”

Jen­nings gets in­volved

Denny from Greeneville can sleep soundly this week. On the “Vol Calls” ra­dio show Wed­nes­day night, Denny chided Pruitt for red­shirt ju­nior re­ceiver Jauan Jen­nings’ lim­ited in­volve­ment in the of­fense through two games.

“I just won­der why he’s not get­ting the ball enough,” Denny said. “He’s a great play­maker and I can’t un­der­stand why he’s not get­ting the ball enough.”

On Satur­day, Jen­nings fi­nally re­turned to the end zone, tak­ing a swing pass from quar­ter­back Jar­rett Guar­an­tano for a 4-yard touch­down early in the fourth quar­ter. He to­taled 22 yards on three re­cep­tions.

Jen­nings missed nearly all of the 2017 sea­son with a wrist in­jury, was kicked off the team in Novem­ber, re­turned un­der Pruitt but had a knee op­er­a­tion in the win­ter that forced him to miss spring prac­tice. Jen­nings then suf­fered a mi­nor set­back dur­ing pre­sea­son prac­tice. He caught seven touch­down passes in 2016, and Pruitt fielded nu­mer­ous ques­tions this past week about get­ting Jen­nings more in­volved.

“He wasn’t able to go in the spring,” Pruitt said. “I think Jauan has a re­ally com­pet­i­tive spirit about him. When he gets to the game, he likes to com­pete. I think the more he gets to prac­tice, as he is do­ing more and more each week, the closer he is get­ting to play all the time.”

Refugee tick­ets

Ten­nessee is­sued 1,067 free tick­ets to Hur­ri­cane Florence refugees from North Carolina, South Carolina and Vir­ginia.

STAFF PHOTO BY ROBIN RUDD

Ten­nessee re­ceiver Jauan Jen­nings heads to the end zone for a touch­down early in the fourth quar­ter of Satur­day’s game in Knoxville.

STAFF PHOTO BY ROBIN RUDD

Brent Cimaglla cel­e­brates his field goal against the Univer­sity of Texas El Paso Min­ers on Satur­day.

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