Rookie Roundup: Tauren Poole, RB, University of Tennessee

Tauren Poole, the 5’10, 215 pound running back from Tennessee, enters next week’s draft with something to prove. Poole left Tennessee after enduring three coaching changes, a stat not particularly helpful for a player’s development. But he does possess NFL talent, has impressed scouts over the past few months and is considered a strong, solid all-around runner.

Poole’s breakout year was 2010 when he garnered 1,034 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the Vols.

(Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Poole is currently projected to be selected in the 4th-5th round range.


Melissa Jacobs: Tauren, one of the things that stands out about you is all your academic accolades, from high school through college.  How does being such a smart young man specifically help your game on the field?

Tauren Poole: Doing things right has helped me in football, and it comes from my upbringing, my mother.  She always told me to do the right thing off-the-field and carry them on the field.  A lot of it is the extra effort I put into the game, whether it’s deep into the fourth quarter or at practice. That attitude has helped me the whole time I’ve been playing football.

MJ: I think you’re the first NFL hopeful I have talked to who is on LinkedIn. Able to network with and those scouts or coaches that way?

TP: No (laughing). I don’t think I’m connected to anyone of them.

MJ: Talk about the graduate program you are in.

TP: I just completed some research last semester, which equated to nine hours in sports psychology.

MJ: Is sports psychology a field you may opt to go into in the future?

TP: It was something someone told me I would be interested in, so I figured I’d do it. I was interested in doing sports management but they said that would be kind of redundant. [Poole’s bachelor’s degree was in sports management].

MJ: Let’s move back to football. You were at Tennessee during some tumultuous years. How much of an effect did the coaching changes have on your game?

TP: I think in many ways it kind of helped me.  What I mean is that we had these changes but it gave me the ability to learn how to adjust. Especially to tough situations. Dealing with all that at Tennessee – new coaches everywhere, even position coaches –  has really helped me to prepare for different situations in the NFL. I’m sure the NFL will be harder, but for now I can look ahead and be happy about my future based on all we went through in the past.

MJ:  What are some of the elements to your game, maybe ones we didn’t get to see at Tennessee, that you believe will make you a successful back in the N.F.L.?

TP: I think pass protection is a big one. They didn’t get to see much of that at Tennessee the year I started.  That is something I definitely want to prove to once I hit camp.

MJ  What current running backs do you think your style most emulates?

TP: Me personally, I’ve heard a lot of Ray Rice.  That’s because of the variety of things that he does out of the backfield, whether it’s running routes or pass protection. Even the way he runs with the ball is comparable. I can see myself with the same makeup.

MJ: One major topic the last month has been the bounty story from the Saints, and in particular, the released tape of Gregg Williams before the 49ers game.  Did you listen?

TP: Yes, I heard it.

MJ: How does that audio, specifically the parts about Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, affect a young running back, like yourself, newly entering the league?

TP: It doesn’t really. When I became the featured guy in high school they wanted to hurt me.  I don’t think it affects you if you don’t think about it. Injuries are going to happen whether people are trying to hurt you or not.  You can’t really wrap your mind around who is trying to injure you or not.

MJ: Who will you be with during the draft? And where?

TP: I’ll be with my mom and auntie. I’m not a guy who wants a big party. I’ll just keep it humble and await that call.

MJ: And assuming all goes well and you sign that first contract, what are you buying first?

TP: A car. I really need some form of transportation.

MJ: Make and model you’re targeting?

TP: I want a Nissan Titan because I’ve never had a truck before.

Rookie Roundup is a series of interviews with select NFL prospects.  Look for new rookies every week leading up the draft.