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Devy Profile: Tennessee RB Jabari Small

Tennessee’s Jabari Small doesn’t get much devy love – Matthew Mitchell tells us why he should be getting so much more!

The SEC is a virtual goldmine when it comes to Devy Prospects. Long perceived as the preeminent conference in all of College Football, the 14 current members boast some of the best talents in the nation. This perception holds true when it comes to the RB position. Countless RBs have matriculated through the SEC to successful NFL careers. Heading into the 2022 campaign, the Tennessee Volunteers have one of the most overlooked RB prospects in all of Devy. Junior RB Jabari Small is set for a true breakout on the heels of his late-season Sophomore flash. Despite his obvious upside and potential massive workload heading forward, he is nowhere to be found on most Devy rankings. Without further ado, let us dive into this Volunteer prospect and see if he is justly or unjustly overlooked. 

High School

Small came to Rocky Top after a successful run at Briarcrest Christian School in Eads, Tennessee. In High School, he was the catalyst for his school’s offense, racking up big numbers in his final two seasons. You can see his high school numbers and recruiting rankings below courtesy of 247sports

When you watch Small’s High School highlights, you see a multi-dimensional athlete who succeeded on both offense and special teams. His talent helped him in the rushing and receiving game, where, as you can see above, he had over 20 catches each year. Coming out of school, Small was recruited by some true heavy hitters in College Football. He picked Tennessee over numerous schools, including Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Auburn, to name a few. You can see some of his High School highlights below.

Tennessee Volunteers

Small joined a Tennessee program that has been searching for a way back to the mountaintop since they forced program legend and College Football HOF member Phil Fulmer out in 2008. Jabari battled several other RB prospects including starter Eric Gray and Ty Chandler. Small would eventually force his way up the depth chart heading into the 2021 season. His ascension may have been a catalyst for former starter Ty Chandler transferring to North Carolina. In any case, Small worked his way into the starting lineup throughout his Sophomore season. His best performance came in his final game against Purdue in the Music City Bowl. You can see his 2021 Game Log below.   

Film Breakdown

One of the first things that stand out to me when watching the film on Small is his vision. He does an excellent job of finding the cutback lane when pressing the line of scrimmage. You can see him in the clip below head towards the middle before finding the cutback lane to his right and then exploding up the field. He even has enough shiftiness to juke the defender on the second level and turns a big play into a TD.

 

On the play below, you can again see Small using his patience and vision to find the correct hole before putting his foot in the ground and getting upfield. He also again makes the man on the second level miss and this time uses his power to run through the arm tackle attempt.

Small has also shown an ability to consistently use his 5’11,” and 213 lb. build to run with power. Notice how he powers through the tackle with a spin move to find the endzone in the clip below. 

As with any young player, Small needs to work on his blocking. He is a willing blocker but I have noticed that sometimes he loses himself in the wash and can miss some pass protection assignments. However, Small does do a fine job of stonewalling the rush when he identifies the blitz. You can see on the play below that he scans the entire line of scrimmage before correctly identifying the rush on the outside and giving his QB the assist. 

On the block below, you can see Small step up in the pocket and chop down the blitzing linebacker. This is another example of him being willing to place himself between the defender and his QB.

When talking about his High School career, I mentioned that Jabari Small was an adequate pass catcher. Despite what he showed at that level of competition, Tennessee has not regularly targeted him in the passing game. In fact, he only had one game all season where he received more than one catch. That does not mean he cannot be a weapon in the passing game if the Vols choose to use him as such. He can make things happen whenever he gets the ball in his hands, as you see below against Florida.

Final Thoughts

Small is one of the better-kept secrets in the entire devy community. He will indeed find himself on the Pre-Season Doak Walker Award Watch List as he was in 2021. He is in a situation where he will likely work as the Tennessee Bellcow RB. 2022 should bring his first collegiate 1,000-yard season as he continues to grow within the program.

Second-year coach Josh Heupel knows a thing or two about successful college offenses. He was the QB of the 2000 National Champion Oklahoma Sooners. His college playing resume is impeccable. I believe he will find a way to have the Tennessee offense be competitive in a tough SEC.

For some reason, people overlook Small as a prospect in the devy community. Even here at Dynasty Nerds, where we have the best Devy team in the business, Small finds himself outside the top 50 college RB prospects! Perhaps I’m crazy but I highly recommend taking a shot on Small late in your devy drafts. In my view, he is primed for a Kenneth Walker-like rise up the college rankings. At a bare minimum, check him out and keep your eye on Volunteer games this season; I guarantee he will flash. Take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly.  

Thank you for reading this article! Please be sure to join the #Nerdherd so you don’t miss out on any of the amazing things we have to offer @Dynastynerds.com. Use my promo code DynastyHolliday for a 15% off discount. You will get rankings, extra podcasts, and access to our rookie film room. For just a couple of bucks more you can get access to our revolutionary DynastyGM tool. So much for so little, why miss out on all the fun. Also, you absolutely must check out our new mock draft tool. Find it in your Apple & Android app stores. Follow me @ReflipeWThenuz for more dynasty content and other musings. 

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