Sounds like Bobby Johnson is going to try to redshirt one of his three freshman tailbacks. And the most likely candidate is Wesley Tate. Right now, Zac Stacy and Warren Norman are rotating with the game-day offense, and Tate is working mostly with the scout team. Stacy and Norman both bring something the offense lacks: shifty, versatile runners who can take it to the house. And while Tate is fast, he's a bigger, taller power back who's made his mark so far this preseason running between the tackles, which Kennard Reeves and Jermaine Doster have also done.
Look for Tate to be put on the Rob Lohr/Colt Nichter program. Those guys practiced some last season with the game-day offense and traveled with the team and were even on the depth chart and ready to play as soon as Greg Billinger, Adam Smotherman or T.J. Greenstone got injured or ran out of gas. Remarkably, none of those three defensive tackles ever got injured or ran out of gas and between them they covered every defensive snap of every one of Vanderbilt's 13 games. So Lohr and Nichter redshirted.
"Sometimes we redshirt a guy, but we take them on trips in case we need them," Johnson told the Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge. "If we don't need them, it's good to be able to redshirt them. If somebody gets hurt or two people get hurt, we could put them in the game. But if they don't play, they still get some kind of experience going to the other stadiums, seeing the crowds, being on the plane … it's good experience. I would think we'd be carrying all three of them."
I'd say Tate's chances of redshirting will probably be better than the odds, going into last season, that Lohr and Nichter would both maintain their redshirt status throughout the season. Last season, Vanderbilt had three defensive tackles covering two starting positions. This season, if Stacy and Norman play in the opener as expected, Vanderbilt will have six tailbacks covering one starting position (starter Jared Hawkins, freshmen Stacy and Norman, juniors Reeves and Miller and sophomore Doster.)
KICKING BATTLE CONTINUES: The coaching staff has said all along they want redshirt freshman Ryan Fowler to win the starting placekicker job so that senior Brett Upson can concentrate on punting. So has that happened yet? In a post-practice video interview on the athletic department site, Johnson said no. "We got tons of practice left to do," he said.
FREE AGENT DORE UPDATE: Speaking of Vandy wide receivers, Sean Walker hauled in a 24-yard pass Thursday night for the Rams in an exhibition game against the Bengals. Oh, and Reshard Langford had three tackles for the Eagles against the Jaguars, though he may have been overshadowed by some guy who recently got out of prison.