After the 2018 season the sky seemed to be the limit for Tennessee running back Ty Chandler. The sophomore had 630 yards and four touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry. Not to mention his 9.6 yards per reception and three receiving touchdowns on only 19 receptions. All of this production was in the SEC, the most talent-filled conference in the college.
At this point, Chandler was one of college footballs rising stars, but the emergence of Eric Gray has led to Chandler being forgotten about in the landscape of college football.
On Jan. 12, Chandler made the decision to transfer to the University of North Carolina for his last year of eligibility. A decision that can lead to a breakout fifth-season for Chandler and hearing his name called during the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Tar Heel running back room will have a far different look when Chandler arrives. The duo of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams was arguably the best running back duo in the country this season. The two dudes who rocked Tar Heel Blue gashed defenses week in and week out, accruing 2,385 yards and 28 touchdowns running the ball and were a crucial part to the 2020 revival of North Carolina football. However, these two will not be returning for Head Coach Mack Brown. Sadly for North Carolina, the team’s leading returning rusher is quarterback Sam Howell, who while supremely talented, is as much of a dual-threat as the average punter.
Before the addition of Chandler, British Brooks was the expected to be the lead back for the Tar Heels, but even he only rushed for 53 yards on 15 carries against Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl and had 99 yards last season. Brooks doesn’t scream or even suggest potential star, however Chandler does.
Traveling to Chapel Hill will allow Chandler to showcase his talents, as he will likely beat out Brooks to be the team’s featured running back. The former four-star recruit has never gotten the chance to truly shine in Knoxville, but being a Tar Heel can give him that chance.
The 5-foot-11 running back carried the ball more than 135 times in a season, but has still been one of the country’s most efficient backs, never averaging less than 4.3 yards per carry, which happened in his freshman season. Chandler may have never had a season where he carried the workload of a rushing attack, but there is little reason to suggest that he won’t be able to.
Chandler faced the best competition in the country every week at Tennessee and was always up to par. With more touches every game, don’t be surprised if he becomes a human highlight-reel against inferior ACC competition.
The former Tennessee running back has a skillset that can be compared to another former Volunteer: Alvin Kamara. Sure, Kamara is now known for his NFL highlights, but during his time at Tennessee he was a dynamic all-around playmaker, much like Chandler.
There isn’t much that Chandler has proven unable to do and North Carolina needs for him to show that this year.
Chandler has home-run threat abilities at running back and even showed the ability to lay some power. He’s shown highlights of being an explosive kick returner, due to his ability in the open field.
Chandler flashes intelligence as a runner and underrated patience, especially at the second-level where he continues to read his blocks and effortlessly change direction to the soft spot of a defense.
Chandler will also be the lead back in an offense that completed 53 passes to running backs last season, meaning he can show how diverse of an option he can be for an offense. Chandler can go from largely forgotten to the swiss-army knife that Mack Brown will need to keep his high-powered offense effective.
Chandler also has special teams experience and can replace dynamic Dazz Newsome and the aforementioned Michael Carter as one of North Carolina’s primary kick and punt returners.
North Carolina is losing a lot of their offense. The team is losing two of the ACC’s top receivers with Newsome and Dynami Brown departing for the NFL and arguably the country’s top running back duo.
Chandler offers them a high-ceiling, do it all back that can be the perfect fit for an offense that will be in desperate need of a spark.
As for Chandler, well, he’s a great talent who finally gets the chance to show his talent.