Tennessee needs immediate-impact playmakers all over the field, and that’s why the Volunteers are such an attractive option for graduate transfers.
A week after getting Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst, UT added another player who figures to get important touches on Sunday night when Michigan State senior transfer Madre London announced via Twitter that he’ll finish his career at Tennessee.
— Madre London (@madrelondon) March 11, 2018
Just this week, I wrote for Bleacher Report that London was looking to leave the Spartans, and I predicted he’d wind up with Notre Dame, only because there hadn’t been any buzz out there on where he’d go. In that same piece, I predicted (wildly guessed) the Vols would go after and get Clemson running back C.J. Fuller. I had it right that the Vols would go after a runner, but I got the wrong one.
Instead, London wanted to go somewhere and get started. That’s why the Vols were a perfect fit.
There’s no question London wanted to go somewhere where he could get vital carries, and there’s also no doubt the Vols need a power back who can churn out yards. Just like UT wants to go to a more downfield passing attack, they also want a power running game, and with John Kelly off to the NFL, there aren’t any proven options there. Incoming freshman Jeremy Banks will serve that role in the future, but will he be ready in 2018?
That’s why London was necessary.
It appears London was wanted by the Vols all along, at least according to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg:
Former #MichiganState RB Madre London tells me #Tennessee was the first school to contact MSU after he announced his intentions to transfer. “I like where they’re heading. They want to bring Tennessee back. It was a good situation for me knowing I could contribute right away.”
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) March 12, 2018
Sophomore Ty Chandler should be the starting running back, but London brings with him valuable reps in the Big Ten. He’s not going to be a guy who can break off 40- or 50-yard runs, but he played three years in East Lansing, finishing with 924 yards and eight touchdowns in three seasons.
He looked like he may be the Spartans’ primary back as a freshman when he had more than 500 yards, but he got injured, and LJ Scott took over; he’d never relinquish the job. In that span of time, Scott had 2,591 yards and 25 touchdowns, and with him returning for his senior year, London was going to be the backup again. So, he’ll go to Tennessee where he can carve a niche for himself.
He averaged four yards per carry in his career, and at 6’1″, 218 pounds, he’s a between-the-tackles player who can move the chains in short-yardage situation. That’s exactly what UT needs; the Vols don’t need an every-down back, but they need somebody who can get tough yards.
Getting London will allow the Vols to bring Banks along slowly and also to work in Chandler and Tim Jordan. With Carlin Fils-Aime moving to cornerback this spring to work on that side of the ball, depth was an important need for the Vols at the position, and London brings it.
“They (have) been letting me know the situation I can be a part of this fall,” London told GoVols247’s Ryan Callahan recently. “They feel like I can play a big role in the offense, and they were looking for a player that is used to playing in big games and that is used to playing in front of a big crowd.”