IMPACT ANALYSIS: Vols add powerful tailback Will Stallings to 2023 class

Tennessee reeled in its 10th commit for the class of 2023 Sunday afternoon and its first running back as three-star Will Stallings made his announcement to wear Orange. The Volunteer pledge picked up an official offer from the program earlier this month after coming to Knoxville for the June 1 prospect camp.

Stallings fits the bill of a type of running back both Josh Heupel and position coach Jerry Mack want in the room, which is a ‘bigger’ option. The Las Vegas, NV. Native stands in at just under 6-foot-1, weighing 225 pounds. Then the athlete comes from Bishop Gorman High School, the same institution that produced wide receiver Cedric Tillman.

Sunday’s commitment is now the fifth on the offensive side of football, joining the likes of five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, four-star tight end Ethan Davis, three-star offensive lineman Ayden Bussell and three-star wide receiver Nate Spillman. Stallings chose the Volunteers over 15 other offers.

Here’s a detailed look at what Stallings’ commitment means for Tennessee.

SCOUTING REPORT

“He’s definitely a great player and a kid who loves to compete. He loves and bleeds football. His focus and his attitude towards football is something that is not normal for that age. His commitment to what he is doing and to his craft is just excellent. He does a little bit of everything for us and is a very versatile player. He will have no problem adapting to any type of offense. ”

Brent Browner, Bishop Gorman head football coach

HIGHLIGHTS

HOW STALLINGS FITS IN WITH THE VOLS?

Stallings is a bigger back. Not the tallest (almost 6-foot-1) but he’s got the weight to back up his style at about 225 pounds. He’s a hard-nosed runner that gets vertical as son as he can. The running back never shies away from contact and always keeps his feet moving, needing multiple defenders at times to drag him down.

At Bishop Gorman, the offense is run at out shotgun and there’s a lot of movement in front of him with guards pulling, tackles crossing and kicking out and with some folds and scoop blocks mixed in. The look is similar to what Heupel does at Tennessee and there’s even some H-backs mixed into the mix.

Stallings does a great job of following behind those blockers, showing the patience to allow the play to develop in front of him. He shows plus-vision as well, knowing when to cut back or bounce outside. He’s shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield on screen passes, usually going the distance after a broken tackle or two – showing good balance in the process.

While at Tennessee, the running back will need to work consistently at his speed. He was clocked at 4.63 and 4.70 in his two attempts at the 40-yard dash at Tennessee’s prospect camp on June 1. Not horrible, but not great. There’s a lot of room for improvement there. With better speed, additional agility is also desired. But all of this can be strengthened with time inside a Power 5 strength and conditioning program.

Stallings does have some impressive athletic ability to go along with his thick stature. He played cornerback earlier in his high school career, logging several pass breakups and interceptions.

WHAT DOES STALLINGS ‘COMMITEMENT MEAN FOR TENNESSEE?

It gets the ball rolling at running back in this class – a position that’s been a little all over the board this term. The Vols would like to add more than one back in this class and Stallings is on the bigger end of the spectrum. It’ll give the coaching staff more leeway to add a smaller back or ‘scat back’ if needed.

Looking ahead, the Vols are positioned to return every scholarship running back that’s currently on the roster for the 2023 campaign. By that point, Jabari Small will be a senior, Jaylen Wright will have three years of experience under his belt and Justin Williams-Thomas and Len’Neth Whitehead will both be battle tested. Dylan Sampson will also have a year in the program by then.

With the strength in numbers at the position, Stallings can come in and work with no pressure to be counted on from day one. The tailback can focus on fine-tuning some little things that will help better equip him for life in the Southeastern Conference. However, he has the size and he runs hard – so if Tennessee needs a change of pace back – he could get a look as a freshman.

Now that Stallings has joined the class, all eyes point towards Cam Seldon and what he may do as the summer progresses. He’s a guy this staff has made an absolute priority as he can play either running back or wide receiver in this system. Jeremiah Cobb is still on the board and local product DeSean Bishop is still in the mix.

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