Former Vol Alvin Kamara named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Former Tennessee Volunteers running back Alvin Kamara beat out Kareem Hunt and Deshaun Watson for the AP Rookie of the Year Award on Saturday. Kamara was the fifth running back taken in the 2017 draft by the New Orleans Saints and is just the second Tennessee player ever to win the award.

Kamara racked up 14 total touchdowns including two scores in the postseason. He led all running backs in the NFL with 826 receiving yards. He also led all running backs with over six yards per carry. Kamara fell behind only Pittsburgh Steeler Le’Veon Bell in most receptions by a running back.

Fans voted Kamara the Pepsi Rookie of the Year in his first Pro Bowl appearance last week where he stood beside his teammate and fellow running back Mark Ingram. Ingram and Kamara were the first pair of running backs to log over 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season.

“I wish he was here because he’s a big reason why I’m standing right here and ya’ll are interviewing me as the Offensive Rookie of the Year,” Kamara said of Ingram. “Great teammate, great friend, a brother to me, great mentor.”

Ingram set career-highs with the help of Kamara, as he put up over 1,100 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in the 2017 season. They are also the first pair of running backs from the same team to be nominated to the Pro Bowl in over 40 years.

New Orleans swept the Rookie of the Year awards, as first-round cornerback Marshon Lattimore won Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Kamara is the first player to tally five rushing touchdowns, five receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdown since Hall of Famer Gale Sayers. He led all rookies with 14 touchdowns and came in second with over 1,500 yards from scrimmage.

“It would be awesome (if he wins),” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “It would be so well deserved. … Listen, he’s certainly deserving. I’m just excited about the future with him.”

Kamara was famously underutilized in his times at Tennessee under former head coach Butch Jones. He recorded just over 1,900 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in his career in Knoxville. Still, Kamara averaged over six yards per carry and registered 23 touchdowns in his limited playing time.

“I’m not going to say too much. Thank you, Mom,” said Kamara on Saturday. “She told me not to say anything other than ‘Thank you’ because she thinks she looks ugly when she cries.”

Edited by Ben McKee 

Featured image courtesy of Jason Behnken

New Orleans Saints select Alvin Kamara

Photo by Sumner Gilliam

With the 67th overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

In Kamara, the Saints are getting a fantastic playmaker. Head Coach Sean Payton will have the former Vol plugged into the offense immediately, helping form a tremendous trio in the backfield with Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram. All of the sudden, the Saints have a strong supporting cast surrounding franchise quarterback Drew Brees, something New Orleans hasn’t had in recent years.

This is a great fit for both Kamara and the Saints. At Tennessee, Kamara was one of the most exciting playmakers in the SEC and now has the potential to be a star in the NFC South thanks to the system Payton runs. Kamara’s versatility will allow the Saints to use him in their rushing attack as well as in passing situations. He’s a powerful runner with a series of strong moves in his repertoire, making it hard for defenders to tackle him.

The talent of Kamara and the outstanding football mind of Payton makes for a fantastic head coach and player combination. Payton will be able to line Kamara up anywhere on the football field to create a favorable matchup. When Reggie Bush was at his peak in the NFL, it was because Payton was putting him in positions to succeed all over the football field, and that’s exactly what Payton will do with Kamara. During the draft process, Payton personally worked Kamara out.

Saints fans should be extremely excited about the addition of Kamara. He’s a fantastic personality and can be a leader in New Orleans. In a year or so, the former Tennessee running back will be a fan favorite.

Edited by Quinn Pilkey

Featured image by Sumner Gillam