Alvin Kamara’s first stint in the SEC didn’t go as planned. The Atlanta native signed with Alabama in 2013 but faced several off-field problems and saw little playing time as a freshman, forcing a redshirt.
Kamara transferred to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College during his second college semester and re-earned a four-star ranking as a JUCO prospect. He gained interest from formal rival Tennessee and signed this past December.
In 2015, Kamara has a chance to start with a clean slate. He vows that his past is behind him and is motivated by his first SEC stint to prove he’s matured into a better player both on and off the field.
“Older, being more wise,” Kamara told the Knoxville News Sentinel when asked how he’s changed. “Just knowing how to deal with people, Knowing how to get things done, School wise, on the field, off the field.”
Kamara is also motivated by his peers who have already tasted success in FBS play. As one of the nation’s best running backs coming out of high school, he wants to rejoin his former colleagues as one of the class’ top backs.
“Seeing guys that came out in my same class,” Kamara said, “guys like Derrick Henry and (Ohio State’s) Ezekiel Elliott last night with the national championship, guys I came up with, they’re just balling, tearing it up. I’m like, ‘Man, I’m kind of behind. I’m playing catch-up.’ I’m just ready to get on the field and show what I can do.”
Kamara’s work ethic gives his optimistic outlook credibility. The former JUCO transfer impressed Tennessee coaches and teammates in spring practices with his
“Alvin continues to just show up, have a workmanlike approach, run with very, very good pad level, be able to make you miss and also pass protection,” head coach Butch Jones told 247Sports. “He’s a very good back without the ball in his hands and a very good back with the ball in his hands.”
“I love the way Alvin’s been running all spring,” said rising sophomore guard Jashon Robertson.“We talked about it today. I told him, I said, ‘Look, man, we’re gonna come out here, and you’re gonna get 150 rushing yards in this scrimmage, two touchdowns and 50 receiving yards.’
Kamara has the perfect opportunity for redemption in 2015. At Alabama, the then-freshman was buried in a depth chart of several blue chip prospects. The Vols, however, need an extra running back to match the production of rising sophomore Jalen Hurd, who carried the load of the running game despite multiple injuries.
The duo is expected to boost an already talented Tennessee offense that should improve in 2015. Even the Vols’ offensive line — who ranked last in the SEC in both tackles for loss and sacks allowed — will improve with a year of gained experience and multiple four-star signees.
Not only will Kamara have the opportunity to prove he’s an SEC caliber talent, but also the chance to face his former team. Tennessee continues its annual cross-conference rivalry at Alabama on Oct. 24.
Kamara will have a chance to show his former team what could have been with a big performance in Tuscaloosa, providing the ultimate revenge for a disappointing redshirt season. If spring is any indication, he will have his moment and provide Tennessee with excellent production at running back.