Alvin Kamara is in a unique position as the 2016 season comes to a close. The Tennessee standout running back started the year as the backup but after a crazy year in Knoxville became the starter and emerged as a future legend at UT should be decide to come back in 2017. As a redshirt junior Kamara could decide to enter the NFL Draft after the Vol’s bowl game but should he stay in school he could be in the running for the Heisman Trophy next year.
At the beginning of the season Kamara was stuck behind Jalen Hurd on the depth chart. However, Hurd got into it with head coach Butch Jones and was benched in the fifth game of the year against Georgia and Kamara became the starting running back. The next week against Texas A&M Kamara exploded for 127 yards rushing and 161 yards receiving with three touchdowns. In his last three games against Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt he scored two TDs and averaged over 100 all purpose yards in each game.
Kamara is a downhill runner but also emerged as a receiver out of the backfield which will help him move up NFL draft boards if he comes out this year. Most draft analysts have him projected as a second or third round pick. This year there are a few top tier running backs like Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook. After that it’s a little unclear where Kamara would go since he’s lumped in with Curtis Samuel, Royce Freeman and D’Onta Foreman in the second tier. If there is a run early on running backs Kamara could slip into the late first round However, if there is a run on another position in the first round Kamara could slip in the second or even third round.
There are pros and cons to Kamara returning to Knoxville. Should he come back and remain healthy Kamara would be the #1 back at Tennessee. And with a younger inexperienced QB starting in 2017 Kamara will get a lot of carries early. If he racks up a lot of yards and has big games against tough SEC teams Kamara could be in the running for the Heisman Trophy. However, with senior QB Josh Dobbs graduating it could be a down year for the program and it could the right time to jump ship and declare for the draft. It’s tough to win the SEC without a great QB and if opposing defenses know that Kamara is getting the ball they could stack the line and shut him down.
Kamara has not tipped his hand either way about his future but there are rumblings out of Knoxville that he will be going pro. An announcement is expected after Tennessee plays in the Music City Bowl on December 30.