The announcement comes two days after the 24-21 loss at South Carolina that knocked the Vols out of both the USA TODAY coaches’ and AP Top 25 polls. Hurd rushed for a meager 16 yards on eight carries in the first half of that game and did not play the second half due to injury.
“I met with Jalen Hurd this morning and we had a conversation and I have a great relationship with Jalen. He has informed me he intends to transfer and I support him on that,” Jones said. “I am very, very thankful for everything he has done for our football program.”
UT (5-3, 2-3 SEC) will host Tennessee Tech on Saturday’s homecoming game at Neyland Stadium.
Hurd’s release comes after a preseason of immense hype. As a sophomore in Tennessee’s Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern, he was named game MVP with a stat line of 24 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown. That capped a sophomore-record season of 1,288 yards.
In his Monday media availability, Jones did not identify Hurd’s reasons for the request. “I think it’s the combination of a long football season, (he’s) been contemplating that. I don’t want to speak for Jalen,” Jones said. “There is a lot of things that go into that decision and I guess the only thing I will say is that I value our relationship and have a lot of respect for that young man and wish him nothing but the best.”
According to a letter Hurd’s uncle sent to 247Sports, however, the running back’s dissatisfaction with his coach’s unfulfilled promises played a major role.
Reports that running back Jalen Hurd has quit Tennessee team. Here’s a purported post from his uncle explaining why: pic.twitter.com/i7llKHNDAN
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 31, 2016
With Alvin Kamara out for several weeks with an undisclosed knee injury, sophomore John Kelly becomes the presumed starter for the injury-ravaged Vols.
Tennessee has lost three straight after beginning the season 5-0.
Information from ESPN.com, The Tennessean and the Knoxville News Sentinel contributed to this report.