Friday, March 20, 2009

Funk's a spring workhouse at quarterback — who's who in Vanderbilt football spring practice

Jared Funk’s been getting plenty of work at quarterback. In last week’s scrimmage, he and Larry Smith split time, and yesterday he and Mackenzi Adams took turns leading the offense.

From what I can tell from reports, Smith still looks like our starter at quarterback, Adams still looks like a solid backup, and Funk has the skills and is getting experience running the offense in case he’s pressed into action.

Kennard Reeves appears to be a great option at running back and could even split time with Jared Hawkins next season, especially if the true freshmen get off to a slow start. Remember that Hawkins was considered to be a situational back at best until he burst on the scene last season. Reeves, a redshirt junior, is quicker and more athletic.

John Cole and Terence Jeffers are emerging, along with the three tight ends, as the top targets for Smith. Turner Wimberly has the most TD receptions in the spring, but I don’t expect him to be more than a spot receiver and special teams performer once the real season starts.

On defense, Chris Marve is as dominant as ever and seniors Greg Billinger and Brent Trice appear poised to have big final seasons. Redshirt freshmen Rob Lohr and Josh Jelesky are among a boatload of redshirt freshmen capable of making big contributions next season on the D-Line.

Here are the standouts after a couple of scrimmages:


• Funk has two touchdown passes, 32 yards and 8 yards to Turner Wimberly. Funk and Wimberly. Sounds like a law firm.
• Adams fired a 28-yard TD pass to tight end Justin Green.
• Smith has lots of completions for 15+ yards, including a 38-yard TD to Terence Jeffers

Running backs
• Kennard Reeves has looked great, reeling off punishing runs, including one for 11 yards and one for 30 yards in yesterday’s scrimmage. On Saturday, he gained 28 yards after breaking an open-field tackle and also took a Funk pass 12 yards.
• Ryan van Rensburg, Vanderbilt’s only apparent option at fullback, has been getting lots of reps, including a 2-yard touchdown on his fourth consecutive carry on Saturday.
• Gaston Miller collected a pair of first down runs on Saturday.

Wide receiver
• John Cole’s bouncing back from injury, catching five passes yesterday, including a pair of acrobatic grabs.
• Terence Jeffers is the real deal. He just needs to keep hitting the books.
• Former quarterback Turner Wimberly has caught two TD passes from Funk, a 32-yarder yesterday and an 8-yarder Saturday.
• Udom Umoh, whose playing time increased in the Music City Bowl, caught an 18-yard pass from Smith on Saturday.
• Alex Washington caught a 19-yard pass from Smith on Saturday.

Tight end
• Justin Green, a 6-foot-6 target at tight end, grabbed a 28-yard TD pass from Adams
• Brandon Barden caught a pass from Smith on Saturday.


• Greg Billinger’s looked solid with a tackle for a loss and a third-down quarterback sack.
• Rob Lohr, a redshirt frosh, has a tackle for loss.

• Theron Kadri has a big third-down stop and a tackle for loss.
• Steven Stone also chalked up a quarterback sack.
• Tim Fugger had a pair of impressive stops on Saturday.
• Josh Jelesky, a redshirt frosh, has a tackle for loss.

• Chris Marve’s big plays have included a third-down stop and a quarterback sack.
• Nate Campbell ended a drive by deflecting a Smith pass.
• Brent Trice, the former safety, was impressive with a sack and a tackle for a loss on the same drive on Saturday.

• Casey Hayward tackled big fullback Ryan van Rensburg for a loss on third down.
• Joel Caldwell, the senior safety, deflected a Smith pass on the goal line.

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