The deadline for underclassmen to declare their intentions to enter the 2016 NFL Draft passed yesterday, and Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara opted to pass on a shot at playing on Sundays in order to come back and help Tennessee reclaim some SEC East glory.
Kamara rushed for 698 yards and seven touchdowns for Tennessee last season, playing a solid complementary role alongside Jalen Hurd (1,288 yards, 12 touchdowns). Kamara also added 291 receiving yards and three touchdowns and returned a small handful of punts, with one going for a touchdown. The former Alabama running back transferred into a good spot at Tennessee and will be part of a nice thunder-and-lightning backfield for Tennessee in 2016. Kamara was believed to be liekly to enter the NFL Draft, with the outlook of playing a third-down back role. A return to Tennessee in 2016 could allow him to show off more of his abilities and change the way he is potentially used in the future.
Kamara is joined by junior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cameron Sutton as three key underclassmen who will return to play for Butch Jones in 2016. The 2016 season figures to be one of great optimism for the Volunteers as the roster assembled under Jones since his arrival is starting to come together strongly and develop to the point of breaking out. After two straight seasons ending with big bowl margins of victory, the time for Tennessee to begin moving up in the SEC East is now.
Tennessee had the second-best recruiting class in 2015, behind Alabama, and the third best in 2014 (trailing only Alabama and LSU). Rivals currently ranks Tennessee ninth in the SEC and 29th overall, but that could change between now and signing day as well.