KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara says the lessons he learned in his lone season at Alabama should benefit him as he starts over with a different Southeastern Conference program.
Kamara signed with Alabama out of Norcross High School in Georgia in 2013 as the nation's No. 2 all-purpose back in his class, according to the 247Sports Composite, which measures the rankings of all the major recruiting services. He was suspended twice while redshirting with the Crimson Tide that fall before transferring.
After a productive 2014 season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, he enrolled at Tennessee last week.
"It's definitely a breath of fresh air," Kamara said Tuesday. "It feels good to start over, and just having that experience with Alabama first (and) just knowing how to play the game and just do what I have to do to be successful."
Kamara says he has matured since his Alabama experience as far as "just being more wise and knowing how to deal with people, knowing how to get things done school-wise, on the field and off the field."
The transition from SEC football to the junior college ranks also made an impact.
Kamara ran for 1,211 yards and scored 21 touchdowns (18 rushing, three receiving) at Hutchinson, the same school that produced former Tennessee star and current Minnesota Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The junior college experience helped Kamara savor the chance he has now that he's back in the SEC.
"My high school weight room was bigger than Hutchinson's," Kamara said. "It makes you step back and really appreciate the things that you have. Coming from Alabama and going to Hutch, it was like, 'Whoa.' It was like a shock."
Tennessee is hoping Kamara can form a dynamic running back tandem with Jalen Hurd, who rushed for 899 yards as a freshman this season.
No other running back who carried the ball for Tennessee in 2014 is expected back next season, so Kamara has a golden opportunity to contribute immediately as a sophomore.
The speed and pass-catching ability of the 5-foot-11 Kamara should make him an ideal complement to the 6-foot-3 Hurd.
"We feel he is a complete running back," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said after Kamara signed with the Vols last month. "Getting to be able to get him at midyear is going to be a big boost to our entire offense."
Kamara is eager to live up to the ranking that accompanied the start of his college career.
"Seeing guys that came out of my same class, guys like (Alabama's) Derrick Henry and (Ohio State's) Ezekiel Elliott last night with the national championship, guys I came out with, they're just balling and tearing it up," Kamara said. "And I'm like, 'Man, I'm kind of behind.' I'm playing catch-up. I'm just ready to go out on the field and show what I can do."