Saturday, September 19, 2009

How are the true freshmen doing for Vanderbilt?

I don't hear Vandy fans talking about him much, but true freshman Eric Samuels is one guy we need on the field tonight. Remember he had an interception and a fumble recovery in the opener before spraining his ankle. He's a tall, athletic corner, and we need all the DBs we can get.

Here's a quick look at how the true freshmen are faring so far for Vanderbilt, compared to the results of our preseason poll. Heck, let's rank ’em:

1. Zac Stacy, RB: About 44 percent of Moral Victory voters thought he'd play as a freshman, the most votes for any of the new tailbacks. Instantly became one of our best offensive players, and has a quickness hitting the hole and cutting in traffic that we've lacked since, heck, maybe since Dan McGugin was coach.

2. Warren Norman, RB: Only 21 percent of fans thought he'd play right away, and he was an afterthought in any conversation involving Stacy and Wesley Tate. Still, he burst on the scene in the opener, gaining more than 100 yards and scoring twice. Didn't carry the ball against LSU, but did return kickoffs and looked like a vast improvement over our other returners. Right now, Stacy will get the big carries, and junior Kennard Reeves is running hard, but Norman's not going away.

3. Eric Samuels, DB: Like Stacy, 44 percent of fans expected Samuels to play right away, and he did, looking sharp but injuring his ankle in the opener. Didn't travel to Baton Rouge. A very talented player who's a huge part of our team's plans for the future.

4. Collin Ashley, WR: The biggest surprise so far. He got no votes because he wasn't on the poll, and that's because he wasn't a member of Vandy's February signing class. No, he had no offers from major college teams. But he's a game-ready receiver who looks like a clone of John Cole, and he made an immediate impression in preseason practice. Has already caught a couple of passes, and coaches are talking like he's one of the best receivers on the team.

5. Eddie Foster, DB: Only 10 percent of fans thought he'd play this year, but the 170-pound Foster has been too fast and too athletic to keep off the field. With Graham, Samuels and Hamilton sidelined in Baton Rouge, he was thrown into the fire at cornerback and looked fine.

6. Trey Wilson, DB: About 36 percent thought he'd play this season. Got a slow start after dropping his bed on his toe and missing most of preseason practice but has been too talented to keep off the field. Will see more and more action in this young and depth-strapped secondary.

7. Brady Brown, WR: Got the most preseason votes to play, with 56 percent. Played in the opener but not against LSU. No catches so far. He's a big possession receiver, something we could use right now, and the team needs him to develop sooner rather than later.

8. Jay Fullam, S: Got only 4 percent of the preseason votes, while fellow frosh Javon Marshall got 27 percent. But Fullam turned heads in practice and would have played in our first two games if he hadn't injured his hand before the season started. He's recovering from surgery and Johnson has him on the injury report and is talking like he's a veteran who'll immediately step in and play when he returns in a month or so. We'll see.

9. Wesley Tate, RB: About 39 percent of fans thought he'd play right away. That number was much higher right after he signed, but he dropped as word about Stacy began to spread. Right now, he's behind Stacy, Norman and junior Kennard Reeves on the depth chart. Fans are talking about moving him to linebacker and moving just about everybody on the team to wide receiver, but Johnson says Tate's a running back and will probably get a redshirt and return to form a Thunder-and-Lightning type of combination with Stacy. But Tate will be traveling to games and ready to play if Jared Hawkins can't return and one of the other backs is injured.

*Haven't played yet and will likely redshirt: TE Mason Johnston (10%); OL Justin Cabbagestalk (suspended, 5%); QB Charlie Goro, DE Thad McHaney, LB Blake Southerland (4% each); OL Wesley Johnson, OL Mylon Brown, DE Walker May (2% each).


Anonymous said...

Even though Wes Tate probably won't play at all this year, the good thing is that he's traveling with the team and suiting up which gets him used to gameday and preparation. Even more important is that he's getting practice beyond the scout team.


Yes, that's a good point. He'll be like Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter last year, who traveled with the team and were one injury away from getting in the game.