Bishop, Seldon getting early rushing workload for Vols

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee freshman running back DeSean Bishop carries during Thursday's second spring scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee freshman running back DeSean Bishop carries during Thursday's second spring scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium.

Given that senior Jabari Small, junior Jaylen Wright and sophomore Dylan Sampson have averaged more than five yards per carry in their respective Tennessee careers, running back isn't exactly at the forefront of the concern list for this year's Volunteers.

Yet no amount of depth seems safe at that position, which had midyear enrollees DeSean Bishop and Cameron Seldon under a microscope and Josh Heupel quite pleased Thursday morning.

"The running backs as an entire group did some positive things," Heupel said in a news conference after the Vols conducted their second spring scrimmage. "Dylan Sampson made some people miss, and Cam Seldon did a really nice job running the football and did a great job taking care of it. DeSean Bishop -- there were just a lot of really good things from that running back group in particular."

The Vols will have Easter weekend off before practicing again Monday.

Seldon was a solid four-star prospect and the nation's No. 5 athlete on the 247Sports.com composite rankings. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder from Heathsville, Virginia, could wind up a receiver with the Vols, but coaches wanted him to first learn life at running back.

"The last couple of practices have been really good for him," Heupel said. "He's running with good pad level. He's a guy who's transitioning from playing a lot out in space to being at the running back position, and he's continuing to grow in his understanding of how to press the line of scrimmage."

Bishop is a 5-10, 195-pounder from Karns High in Knoxville who was rated as the nation's 1,303rd best prospect, making him the least-heralded of Tennessee's 19 midyear enrollees.

"It's not surprising what DeSean has done," Heupel said. "He's handled the transitioning into college football extremely well. We thought he was athletic and had good vision as a running back coming out of high school, and he's done a really good job of handling the communication system and it not being too big for him.

"I'm proud of what he's done."

Small and Wright were each healthy enough to be available for all 13 games last season, but they combined to miss six starts in 2021. The Vols also had Len'Neth Whitehead and Justin Williams-Thomas on the roster a year ago, but they left the program via the transfer portal.

Hence the importance of Bishop and Seldon this spring and moving forward.

"We're going to need them all," Heupel said. "There are times when you stay healthy for a really long period of time, but you never know when your opportunity is going to come. We're going to need all these guys throughout the course of the season."

Heupel said that quarterbacks Joe Milton III and Nico Iamaleava operated well in the closed scrimmage but struggled some in the four-minute, end-of-game situations. He added that the surplus of experienced offensive tackles compared to the past two springs continues to be a plus.

The Vols have a team meeting Sunday night that will serve as the starting point to the closing stretch of spring, which has the ending showcase of the Orange & White game on April 15.

"This has been a great group in their consistency, and that's with the mental side of it in the meeting room and how they've been physically and mentally out on the practice field," Heupel said. "They have been awesome, and I expect that here in the back end. Next week is a huge week for the development of our program in every phase at every position."


Winter success

Tennessee moved up from 26th to eighth in the Learfield Directors' Cup standings following a stellar showing in winter sports.

The men's swimming and diving team and the women's track and field team finished seventh at their respective NCAA championships, while the women's swimming and diving team finished eighth and the men's track and field squad placed 11th.

Tennessee's men's and women's basketball programs accumulated significant points as well for reaching the Sweet 16 of their respective tournaments.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.

Upcoming Events