Saturday, July 11, 2009

Brandon Barden downsizes his uniform number, and other observations from the rough-draft roster

With SEC Media Days less than two weeks away, the Vanderbilt athletic department is putting the finishing touches on the 2009 roster, and it looks like TE Brandon Barden has traded his No. 87 jersey for No. 6. Kind of a big guy to be wearing such a little number, huh? Sort of like TE Jason Whitten wearing No. 1 when he played for the Vols?

Anyway, Barden, who wore No. 6 as a high school quarterback, got the number when Darlron Spead decided to forgo his fifth year and graduate on schedule. And true freshman wideout Collin Ashley gets Barden's old 87, though probably not the same jersey, seeing how Barden is half a foot taller and 75 pounds heavier.

Speaking of true freshmen, running back Zac Stacy, who was listed at 5-foot-8 as a high school prospect and 5-foot-9 when he signed with the Commodores, is now listed at 5-foot-10. Which means he'll be 6-foot-2 when he's a senior. Everybody was worried about Stacy's size, but he's almost the exact same size as senior starter Jared Hawkins.

But true freshmen DE Walker May, OL Wesley Johnson and WR Brady Brown are apparently shorter — on signing day they were all listed at 6-foot-5 and now they're all 6-foot-four. OL Justin Cabbagestalk is listed 10 pounds heavier since signing day (no word yet on any repercussions from his recent arrest). DB Eddie Foster, who was 165 pounds on signing day, is all the way up to 170 now.

If you're wondering who picked up D.J. Moore's No. 17, that would be freshman quarterback Charlie Goro.

To get all the numbers for incoming freshman football players, click here for a page from the Barca Blog, an informative site by a guy who works in the athletic department, posted recently on the Vanderbilt Athletics Facebook account.

This is all tentative. For example, true freshman defensive back Eric Samuels is listed at No. 37, but so are two other DBs, redshirt freshman Al Owens and redshirt sophomore Elvio Tropeano. Tropeano's a walk-on who'll never see the field, but I would think Samuels and Owens could be out there at the same time, particularly on special teams, and would need different numbers.

One other observation: Vandy has six defensive tackles on the roster, including last year's three-man rotation of Billinger/Smotherman/Greenstone plus three redshirt freshmen, Rob Lohr, Colt Nichter, and Taylor Loftley. (We're not counting John Burrow, who's listed at DE/DT but that's probably because the Commodores are three-deep at DE; Burrow's only 250.) Together those six average 286 pounds. The three redshirt freshmen have gained a total of 56 pounds since last season, with Loftley making the biggest climb from 250 to 280. Billinger, who was 285 last season, is now listed at 297, Smotherman's up 5 pounds to 290 and Greenstone has held steady at 280.

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