Dylan Sampson’s pre-existing relationship with De’Rail Sims has facilitated a smooth transition.

With Jerry Mack transitioning to a role in the NFL, Tennessee football found itself in need of a new running backs coach for the 2024 season. Ultimately, they selected former Cincinnati coach De’Rail Sims for the position.

When making such career changes, there’s typically an adjustment period. What has aided Sims during this transition is the stability within the running back unit at Knoxville.

Heading into the season, there’s a clear lead running back on the roster: Dylan Sampson, returning for his junior year and expected to start every game.

Sims has reviewed Sampson’s performance and sees potential in his skill set. “I’ve noticed his explosiveness and his aggressiveness when facing defenses,” Sims remarked. “His willingness to engage in blocking stood out to me.”

However, Sampson’s impact extends beyond the field. He has emerged as a leader since joining Tennessee, serving as a vital link between the coach and other players, given his prior relationship with Sims during his recruitment at Louisville.

Sampson, originally a three-star recruit with offers from various schools nationwide, now finds himself working alongside Sims at Tennessee.

Backing Sampson is a young group, with Cameron Seldon expected to serve as the backup, supported by Khalifa Keith, Peyton Lewis, and DeSean Bishop.

Sims views the youth in the group as an opportunity for growth and development, emphasizing the importance of continuous improvement and a strong work ethic.

His initial impression of the running back unit has been positive, highlighting their dedication and camaraderie as they prepare for spring practice, commencing on March 18. This period will be crucial for the team to build cohesion and adapt to new staff and roster changes.

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