Tennessee picked up their first running back recruit in the 2021 class – and their eighth recruit overall – when Jaylen Wright of Southern High School (Durham, N.C.) chose them over a host of other offers this week.
By Steve Wright
Wright has decent size at 5-foot-11 and 187-pounds and he has a frame that can (and will) add weight in the future. What Wright will bring to the Vols backfield from Day 1 on campus is blistering speed. The junior was the North Carolina state champion last season in the 55-meter dash and he has been times as low as 10.84 for the 100 meters. It is no shock that Wright will be running track alongside his football career in Knoxville.
The first thing you will notice in this highlight video is that Wright is a guy who translates his track speed to the football field. We usually see that with wide receivers over running backs, but Wright takes long runs to the house while putting distance between himself and any chasing players.
Wright – a three-star prospect with the various recruiting services – is a player who could see that grade raised with a big senior season. He rushed for 901 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, numbers that seem likely to increase during the 2020 season.
Every team needs a back that is a threat to break a big touchdown run regardless of if they get five carries a game or 25 carries. One aspect that is impressive about Wright is that he isn’t a player that does all his damage on outside runs. He has the ability to put his foot in the ground and take the run vertical between the tackles while being powerful enough to break arm tackles of lazy defenders. This is going to make him much harder to defend at the college level than a speed back who has to get outside the hash marks to be effective.