One of the more stunning personnel developments of the 2016 season unfolded Monday, with Tennessee ultimately confirming speculation that Jalen Hurd had decided to transfer from the Vols. No reason was given for the unexpected and abrupt departure, although some had opined that the running back had been benched and that triggered his decision to abruptly leave with a month left in the regular season.
On social media Tuesday, Hurd’s stepfather, Arthur Smotherman, vehemently denied that the junior had been benched at any point in the season. He also lashed out at the media, criticizing them for “[assuming] something is going on and they don’t know the truth so they begin a rumor.”
From The Tennessean:
The problem with the media is this, they assume something is going on and they don’t know the truth so they begin a rumor,” Arthur Smotherman said. “And the problem with fans are, they don’t get the truth, so they just take off with it. So, half of you on here have been saying, ‘Jalen needed to quit anyway because he got benched by the coaches, nobody wanted him there.’ That’s not true.”
At this moment, you guys need to know Jalen was never benched,” Arthur Smotherman said. “If you need to ask anybody on the inside resources, ask (Tennessee running backs) coach (Robert) Gillespie … him and coach Gillespie had a great relationship all the way til the day that Jalen decided he was leaving … coach Gillespie will tell you that Jalen was always a warrior and always gave his all on the field. So you can say what you want about him, that’s fine. But that rumor that he was benched and he’s just mad because (Alvin) Kamara and (John) Kelly had taken over, that’s not true.
In a Facebook post, Tara Smotherman, Hurd’s mother, indicated that she didn’t necessarily agree with her son’s decision to transfer but supported him regardless.
While it was not my choice for Jalen to leave Tennessee (and we were adamant about this), this is a decision that he put a lot of thought into and certainly did not take lightly. It is not my place to discuss his business and the reasons that he’s decided to transfer, but at the end of the day, he believed that it was best for everyone. People are mad, hurt and very upset, and I understand that. Yet, the reality is if you don’t know what he has been through or what he is going through now, then it is very easy to speculate & judge, make up lies & rumors, or heaven forbid, actually believe them.
Jalen has chosen a different path. We don’t always agree with our children’s decisions, but nevertheless, you love and support them through it all no matter what. Thank you to all of our family, friends and Vol supporters that were so kind to us today. We are so thankful and appreciative to the University of Tennessee, the coaching staff and the wonderful fans for all the love and support throughout the years. Many blessings and much success to you all.
Hurd currently leads the Vols in rushing with 451 yards. He did not play in the Texas A&M game in Week 6 after what his stepfather claimed was a concussion sustained the week before against Georgia; the team had never mentioned such an injury publicly. In what turned out to be his last game as a Vol, Hurd didn’t play in the second half of last week’s loss to South Carolina because of an unspecified injury.
At the time of his departure, Hurd was 445 yards away from breaking Travis Henry‘s school record for career rushing yards. Instead, his 2,634 yards leaves him sixth place all-time.