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Tennessee running back Ty Chandler (3) carries versus Southern Mississippi during an NCAA football game at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Editor's note: This is the seventh story in a series previewing Tennessee football before spring practices begin Tuesday.

The rest of the Southeastern Conference may soon discover what Kentucky learned about Ty Chandler last October.

Chandler's speed is his calling card, but he's not just a finesse back. In Tennessee's 29-26 loss to the Wildcats, Chandler carried 22 times for 120 yards, running over a few defenders on his way to two touchdowns while filling in for the suspended John Kelly.

Chandler may still need to add some muscle to his frame, but with Kelly moving on to the NFL, Chandler appears poised to step in as Tennessee's top running back in 2018.

He will be joined in spring practices by fellow rising sophomores Trey Coleman, Tim Jordan and several walk-ons. The 15-practice spring session will offer Chandler a chance to prove himself to Tennessee's new coaching staff before freshman Jeremy Banks and graduate transfer Madre London arrive for preseason practice.

An interesting wrinkle to Tennessee's battle at the position is the addition of Chris Weinke to the coaching staff as running backs coach. The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Florida State who also played in the NFL has never coached or played the position before.

First-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt expects Weinke's quarterback background will help the Vols' running backs understand the importance of embracing pass protection.

"Most of the time those great runners, you just make sure they know what time the bus is going to leave," Pruitt said recently. "It's going to be good for our guys to have a guy like Chris that has done that (played quarterback) and done that at the highest level to be in the room."

One development to follow through spring practices will be the position change of Carlin Fils-aime. The rising junior spent last season at running back but will start spring practices at cornerback. If the staff decides he's a better fit at running back, there will be a crowd at the position in August and a battle for playing time.

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.

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