Just listened to a recording of James Franklin's interview last week with 104.5 in Nashville, from which we can learn a few things:
1. His goal is NOT to become a media darling this week in Birmingham. Remember the star of SEC Media Days last year? Yes, everybody fell in love with the homespun turkey inseminator, Robbie Caldwell, who was apparently thought he was on an episode of "Hee Haw."
2. The quarterback job is Larry Smith's to lose. Sure, everybody's excited about Jordan Rodgers and the workout video he made with his Super Bowl champion brother. But Franklin was quick to point out last week that he still hasn't seen Rodgers play, and until he does, he can't really compare him to Larry. He did say that he feels he has two QBs in Larry and Jordan who can compete in the SEC. Expect him to repeat this over and over again this week in Birmingham. He also said he's looking forward to developing the young quarterbacks.
3. Expect to see Josh Grady and Lafonte Thourogood play as true freshmen, but not necessarily as quarterbacks. Franklin didn't say this. But he did say that (1) the team has a shortage of offensive playmakers and (2) that the young quarterbacks need development. Jordan Matthews can be a big-time SEC receiver, he said, and he's working on ways to get the ball to Brandon Barden, whom he recruited while a Maryland assistant, but he still needs playmakers. While true freshman Jacquese Kirk is listed as a receiver and could be an immediate upgrade over John Cole and Udom Umoh, Thourogood is likely the best receiver prospect on the team, and Grady by all accounts is an electrifying ball carrier with a knack for getting himself out of jams. Both have apparently been promised a shot at QB, but in the meantime expect them to get their hands on the ball as receivers or in the wildcat.
4. Expect to see some defenders get a shot to play offense. Kirk's best position, at least in high school, was cornerback but his first stop on the Vandy practice field will be at wide receiver. Likewise, Dillon van der Wal was a sackmaster at defensive end in high school, but he's listed at tight end. Sure, we've already got Brandon Barden, but who can resist the idea of a 6-foot-7 kid jumping for the ball in the red zone? And while Darien Bryant is a long athlete capable of packing on pounds and playing all over the field, it appears he'll get his first shot at playing time either as a pass-catching tight end, H-back or wide receiver. Also, don't be surprised if defensive backs Derek King or Jahmel McIntosh gets some touches in practice. At 195 pounds, King is an SEC-ready cornerback who could be starting by season's end, but at the least he'll get some reps as a return man.