Tennessee football: Kamara makes statement with Week 6 performance
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After making three calls to his closest family members, Alvin Kamara turned off his phone until Tennessee's chartered flight landed back in Knoxville on Saturday night.
The running back wanted to avoid most of the hundreds of text messages and social media interactions he surely received after an impressive 288-yard performance in the Volunteers' double-overtime loss at Texas A&M.
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With so much national attention on the top-10 showdown between the Vols and Aggies, Kamara took advantage of the absence of Jalen Hurd and starred on the big stage.
"I feel like I made a pretty big statement," Kamara said Monday. "Me and Todd are pretty close, but when you see a guy like that tweet at you, it's kind of uplifting. I kind of talked to him a little bit after the game. Guys knew I had a big game.
"I feel like I could have done more, but I feel like it was a pretty good statement game."
In addition to setting a Tennessee record for single-game all-purpose yardage, Kamara became the only player from a Power Five conference program to have 150 receiving yards and 125 rushing yards in the same game in the last two decades, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Kamara ran for 127 yards, caught eight passes for 161 yards and totaled 24 yards in returns to finish with 312 total yards.
"I don't think I've been around a performance like that in a long time," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "We've asked a lot of him, particularly going into that game, and he answered the call. He's one of those individuals who has not missed one rep of practice. He comes out and works every day.
"He was able to show his skill set, and we're going to need more of that moving forward."
How much will Tennessee showcase Kamara's obvious talent, though?
In the past the Vols have shown a propensity to underuse one of their most talented players. Without Hurd, Kamara was a focal point of the offense and had 26 touches. That's more than he totaled in games against Appalachian State (nine), Virginia Tech (six) and Florida (three) combined.
"I just kind of go with the flow of the game," Kamara said. "I just do what's asked of me, and good things come when you do what you're supposed to do. I don't really ever get frustrated. I just play my role and play my position. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I do."
Kamara certainly would like the chance for another big game this week against top-ranked Alabama, where he started his college career in 2013 before spending a season in junior college and landing back in the SEC with Tennessee.
It's unclear, though, how the Vols will handle their backfield if Hurd returns as expected, especially after Kamara and John Kelly showed they deserve more opportunities.
Stop being so good bro @A_kamara6.— Todd Gurley II (@TG3II) October 8, 2016
"That's a great problem to have, because all three of our running backs have different skill sets," Jones said. "Take away the turnovers with John Kelly, when he was in the game we were excited. Here's an individual who's waited his turn in our football program. We were excited to get him extensive playing time, and he ran hard. He was very, very determined.
"I think that's a good problem to have. We'll play more off the skill sets of all three individuals. There is no question Alvin gave us a spark and John gave us a spark."
Kamara would be the first to say he wasn't mature enough to handle being at a program like Alabama three years ago, but his career certainly took off once he got to Tennessee, where he quickly established himself as a team leader and a favorite among his teammates, who voted him a captain in his second year in the program.
"Getting here and being able to mature and develop as a person, first and foremost I feel like that's more important than a lot of things on the field," he said. "It's a lot of things that are bigger than the game. When you do things like that off the field and you're a good person off the field, it rewards you on the field."
In his stint with the Vols, Kamara has had memorable moments and games, but none were as outstanding and lucrative as what Kamara did last week.
"He's always a guy that sometimes gets overlooked, but he's a heck of a player," tight end Ethan Wolf said. "He's a great teammate as well. He may not always be talking all the time, but he's got a pretty funny personality when he does decide to speak up. He's a great teammate and a heck of a player."
This article was written by Patrick Brown from Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.