Every now and then, a Vandy fan complains about how the coaches have let the offensive line fall into such disrepair. I disagree.
Fate has dealt the Commodores a cruel blow in the past year, with starter Reilly Lauer leaving school, starter James Williams an academic casualty, potential starters Chris Aaron and Justin Cabbagestalk suffering season-ending injuries and substitutes Richard Cagle and Rob Ashabranner leaving school. That’s six guys suddenly gone from your two-deep.
That’s why we’ve already burned the redshirts off two true freshmen offensive linemen this year.
But the coaches are not standing idly by. The recent verbal commitment from Jose Valedon — an underrated prospect with quick feet, long arms and the ability to play either tackle position — gives us a complete offensive line from our 2011 signing class:
• James Lewis, 6-5, 295, Arlington, Tenn., 3 stars from ESPN, Rivals, Scout
• Jake Bernstein, 6-4, 276, Crystal Lake, Ill., 3 stars from ESPN, Rivals, Scout
• Alex Barr, 6-7, 285, Fayetteville, Ga., 3 stars from ESPN, 2 from Scout
• Jose Valedon, 6-4, 270, Oak Ridge, Tenn., 2 stars from ESPN, Scout
• Spencer Pulley, 6-5, 277, Cordova, Tenn., 2 stars from ESPN, Scout
And this nicely complements the complete offensive line from our 2010 signing class:
• Grant Ramsay, 6-5, 280, Marietta, Ga., 3 stars from ESPN, Rivals, Scout
• James Kittredge, 6-4, 260, Ramsey, N.J., 3 stars from ESPN, Rivals, Scout
• Logan Stewart, 6-4, 270, Boiling Springs, S.C., 3 stars from ESPN and Rivals, 2 from Scout
• Andrew Bridges, 6-6, 245, Atlanta, Ga., 3 stars from ESPN and Rivals, 2 from Scout
• Chase White, 6-6, 260, Plano, Texas, 2 stars from ESPN, Rivals, Scout
What does this mean? It means that we’ll have a deep line in 2011:
• Redshirt senior: Kyle Fischer
• Redshirt juniors: Ryan Seymour, Jabo Burrow, Caleb Welchans
• Redshirt sophomores: Wesley Johnson, Mylon Brown, Justin Cabbagestalk
• Sophomores: Logan Stewart, James Kittredge
• Redshirt freshmen: Grant Ramsay, Chase White, Andrew Bridges
• Freshmen: James Lewis, Jake Bernstein, Alex Barr, Jose Valedon, Spencer Pulley
And an even deeper line in 2012:
• Redshirt seniors: Ryan Seymour, Jabo Burrow, Caleb Welchans
• Redshirt juniors: Wesley Johnson, Mylon Brown, Justin Cabbagestalk
• Juniors: Logan Stewart, James Kittredge
• Redshirt sophomores: Grant Ramsay, Chase White, Andrew Bridges
• Sophomore: James Lewis
• Redshirt freshmen: Jake Bernstein, Alex Barr, Jose Valedon, Spencer Pulley
Not bad, huh?
Just remember that more than any other position besides maybe quarterback, offensive linemen must make the biggest adjustments physically and mentally to the college game. That's why Myron Lewis, D.J. Moore, Warren Norman and Earl Bennett play as true freshmen, while Chris Williams, Thomas Welch, Brian Stamper and Justin Geisinger don't.
Our freshmen, even the ones who've been thrown into the fire, are still far from where they'll be in a couple of years. And with Herb Hand and Robbie Caldwell coaching them up, I'm confident the offensive line is going to improve dramatically during each of the next two seasons.