KNOXVILLE — Jalen Hurd has played his last down in a Tennessee uniform.
Head coach Butch Jones confirmed at his Monday press conference the star running back will transfer after meeting with him earlier Monday morning.
"I know there's a lot of talk out there. I met with Jalen Hurd this morning," Jones said, "and we had a conversation. We have a great relationship. Jalen has informed me that he intends to transfer. I support him on that. I'm very, very thankful for everything he's done for our football program, but it's all about football program and our football team in moving forward from this point forward."
Jones would not go into much detail regarding Hurd's reasons for transferring. Hurd and those around him have been unhappy with how he was being used both this season and before. Jones shot down the notion that Tennessee's coaching staff made promises to make schematic changes for Hurd and didn't follow through.
"I don't want to speak for Jalen," Jones said. "There's a lot of things that go into that decision. I guess the only thing I'll say is I value our relationship and have a lot of respect for that young man and wish him nothing but the best."
Hurd finished with 16 yards on eight carries and did not play in the second half of Tennessee's 24-21 upset loss at South Carolina.
Multiple sources close to the situation on Monday morning indicated Hurd's career was over and confirmed a report from Jimmy Hyams of WNML Sports Radio in Knoxville, who tweeted Hurd told teammates at the team's meeting on Sunday night he was going to transfer from Tennessee and play a different wherever he lands.
One of the faces and key pieces of the Vols' turnaround during Jones's tenure, Hurd is done playing at Tennessee after a tumultuous month in which it just seemed off with one of the Vols' key players.
Jones answered a couple more questions about Hurd, said he wasn't going to answer any more and shut down a reporter who started to ask about Hurd and the I-formation package debuted in the Outback Bowl and used very little this season after the season opener against Appalachian State.
"Next question, please," he said.
Asked if Tennessee's team chemistry could improve after Hurd's departure and the inexcusable loss at South Carolina, Jones replied: "I do."
Though he wasn't the most popular player on the team, many of the Vols appreciated how hard Hurd worked and how productive and important he was to the team's success.
Hurd ran for 95 yards on 26 carries in the momentous win against Florida, but at Georgia the following week he was hit from behind as he let up near the goal line after catching what would have been an easy touchdown pass.
Later in the game he did catch a touchdown pass, but he didn't return to the game until he was on the field for Tennessee's final kickoff return prior to Jauan Jennings hauling in the game-winning Hail Mary on the final play of a 34-31 victory.
After the game Jones said Hurd was dealing with "lower extremity" injury, but speculation swirled he was benched after a disagreement on the sideline with an assistant coach.
Two days following the Georgia game, Jones said Hurd was expected to practice, but by Wednesday of that week he was a question mark for the game at Texas A&M, and Hurd wound up not traveling as Alvin Kamara exploded and broke Tennessee's single-game record for all-purpose yards.
Hurd returned against Alabama, but he ran for only 28 yards on 13 carries.
A former five-star recruit out of the mid-state, Hurd entered his junior season with the program's career rushing record within his reach. He needed just 892 yards to pass Travis Henry officially. Tennessee's record book doesn't include Henry's bowl stats, however, as part of his career total.
As a freshman Hurd ran for 899 yards and five touchdowns on 190 carries and caught 35 passes for 221 yards and two more scores.
In 2015 he finished fourth in the SEC in rushing with a 1,288-yard, 12-touchdown season, which included six 100-yard games and most valuable player honors in Tennessee's Outback Bowl romp against Northwestern.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.