One of the more versatile players in this year’s class for the University of Tennessee is Kentucky athlete, Channing Fugate. The 6-foot-2, 225 pound workhorse was set on UT from the outset of the recruiting process and committed to the old staff back in June of 2009. Since then, Fugate has had his eyes on the prize and his desire to become a Vol, led him to graduate high school early from Breathitt County High School in Jackson, KY.
In high school, Fugate was rated as the third best player overall in the state of Kentucky and his size and versatility led to him being recruited by a number of programs for a variety of positions. He ran for nearly 1500 yards as a high school senior, while averaging nearly ten yards per carry for his squad. His work on the defensive side is where he caught the eye of many as he can play a variety of positions on that side of the ball. He really caught the eye of the former staff when he put on a display at the Tennessee prospect camp last June.
In the camp, he was competing against some of the top prospects in the country and more than held his own, despite coming in as a relative unknown. He displayed good hands, strength and versatility coming out of the backfield that led the coaches to think he could be a full-back, an H-Back or a linebacker due to his size and speed. He is rated a three star prospect by ESPN and Scouts, Inc.
Below is Channing’s evaluation by the aforementioned companies…
Fugate is a big, physical running back and strong safety who could easily end up as an outside linebacker at the next level. He has great size and good speed for his competition. A true north-south runner who is straight-line explosive. Not a lot of shake and bake, but Fugate generates power with his strong and powerful legs. Runs through arm tackles and hits and spins to pick up extra yardage. Maintains balance and body control even after being hit in traffic. Can pull away from would-be tacklers even though he doesn’t possess tremendous speed. Demonstrates the vision to make the big cut or bounce the football to the perimeter. Uses the straight-arm technique at times to keep tacklers off his body. A tough defensive back who hits the same way he runs; aggressively and with intensity. Runs through offensive blockers to make a play or the ball-carrier. A physical tackler who punishes the ball-carrier and finishes the play; must be careful to wrap-up at all times. Sometimes gets so aggressive that he wants to take the runners head off with the forearm. Very alert and reactive defensive player. Fugate has the skills, size and athletic ability to play either side of the ball at the next level. He is a competitive and confident football player.
His senior season stats pale in comparison to what he did his junior season, when he made 1st-Team All-State in Kentucky for the first time. He carried the ball 279 times for nearly 3200 yards, with a 10.9 yard per carry average. His impact was also heavily felt on defense where he caused six fumbles and had well over 100 tackles from his strong safety position. Wherever he winds up, he has the makings of an impact player and being on campus for spring ball can only help him in that regard.
Fugate is perhaps the most intriguing player in this class due to his versatility and surprising speed and quickness. He has the makings of someone who can tote the rock ala Jacob Hester at LSU or even Toby Gerhart at Stanford this past season. Most likely though, Fugate’s future lies somewhere other than tailback and it will be very interesting to see how his career plays out in the coming years.