Rajion Neal likes it when his team has to lean on him.
When it's time to pass on the passing game, the Tennessee freshman is ready to carry the load.
Come rain or shine, the 5-foot-11, 207-pound tailback from Tyrone, Ga., wants the ball.
That was readily apparent last October, when Neal helped lead Sandy Creek High School to a mud-soaked 31-13 win over Starr's Mill en route to a AAAA state championship season.
"That was a good game," said Neal, who is enrolled at UT for the first session of summer school. "And a game that everybody appreciated."
Neal ran for 252 yards on 29 carries in the game he described as a "slugfest". That was one of the performances that helped propel him into one of the top tailback prospects in the southeast, if not the nation.
"I would describe myself as a mixture of Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson," Neal said. " I can make people miss in the open field and hit the home run and I can be physical and get one or two yards when needed."
Neal accounted for over 1,800 rushing yards last season and 35 touchdowns. He committed to Mississippi State before being wooed by first-year UT coach Derek Dooley just before National Signing Day.
"It was just the love that coach Dooley showed and the man that he was when he sat down and talked with my family," Neal said.
An official visit to UT's campus in January sealed the deal.
"I felt like it was a place I could be comfortable at," he said.
Neal should be comfortable again on UT's campus. He'll find out just how comfortable he'll be with other college athletes during summer workouts.
"I'm very excited," he said before arriving on campus. "Man, I'm ready to come up there (and) get bigger, stronger faster, get into the mix and hope to be a contributor to the team next season."
Neal's role is undecided. Bryce Brown is expected to transfer but hasn't officially done so yet. Brown was UT's second leading rusher last season. Leading rusher Montario Hardesty is in the NFL. UT returns junior Tauren Poole and sophomore David Oku.
If there's an opportunity, Neal is confident he can seize it.
"I feel that I am physically ready," he said. "I've worked hard since the season has been over and I'm ready."