Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cracking the code of the signing day war room video: How Vanderbilt's 2012 depth chart is shaping up

We’re still three weeks from the start of spring practice, and sometime between now and then Vandy will release its spring depth chart and prospectus.

But why wait? The official Commodores site just posted a very interesting video from the signing day war room, with tantalizing glimpses of a giant depth chart on the wall. So with the help of modern technology and using our experience in military intelligence – yes, it’s an oxymoron – as well as some educated guesses we’ve pieced things together for your enlightenment.

Last year, as you may recall, some clever individual commented that we shouldn't treat the war room videos like they were the Zapruder films. Well, this year we took it to another level.

Keep in mind that this information was culled from little name placards on a giant board and was being updated in the heat of battle, so it will likely contain a few errors, and we welcome any corrections or insight you may have. Also, keep in mind that this is Vanderbilt's winter depth chart and is not a prediction of who will or won't start or play in the upcoming season.

For starters, why does James Franklin still have Maryland plates on his SUV?

Anyway, we've spent a bit more time on this than we intended, so we're gonna give it a rest until spring practice heats up. In the meantime, we'd love to hear your comments, insights, predictions or whatever.

And if you're wondering if we have room for a certain Danny O'Brien or Anthony Standifer, the cornerback who visited campus last weekend, the answer is yes and yes. According to the information gleaned from the war room big board, we've got 83 scholarships, which means we've got two to give. And that's not counting the inevitable attrition that results from the bruised egos of spring practice or the academic difficulty inherent in the beautiful weather and scenery of a spring semester in Nashville, Tennessee.

OK, here’s the scoop:

• Mason Johnston, a former 3-star tight end who would have been a redshirt junior, isn’t listed as a tight end, fullback or injured, which leads us to believe he won’t return from his second straight season-ending leg injury.
• Five players – DT Taylor Loftley, DE Dexter Daniels, LB Al Owens and WRs John Cole and Akeem Dunham are nowhere to be found and apparently won’t be returning for a fifth season.
• Three more potential fifth-year seniors – LB DeAndre Jones, RB Micah Powell and OL Caleb Welchans had already announced they won’t be returning. Another, OL Jabo Burrow, saw his playing career end abruptly in September with a head injury.
• And in case you missed it, the team announced at the end of the season that starting sophomore center Logan Stewart and redshirt freshman RB Mitchell Hester were dismissed from the team. Sophomore safety Andre Simmons was dismissed after being arrested in mid-season, and Blake Gowder quit the team at the start of the season, long before he fell into some trouble of his own with the law.

• Late-season starters: QB Jordan Rodgers, LB Archibald Barnes, DT Rob Lohr and OGs Ryan Seymour and Josh Jelesky, as well as punter Richard Kent and field goal kicker Ryan Fowler.
• Players with starting experience: DT Colt Nichter, TE Austin Monahan (who’s actually returning for a sixth year), DE Johnell Thomas and LB Tristan Strong.

• These players with a history of injury are currently listed as healthy and are on the depth chart: Austin Monahan (No. 1 tight end), Warren Norman (No. 2 running back) and Brady Brown (No. 2 X receiver).
• These players, all of whom were part-time starters last season, are currently listed as injured and are not on the depth chart: FS Javon Marshall, OL Chase White, LB Tristan Strong and Ryan Seymour.
• Jerron Seymour, who got some crucial carries last season as a true freshman and scored a big 40-yard TD against UConn, was reportedly not at full strength last season and is now officially listed as injured.

• Junior Chase Garnham, a stellar outside linebacker last season, has moved inside to replace Chris Marve
• Junior Karl Butler, who turned heads as a backup safety last season before becoming an emergency fill-in at linebacker, starts the spring on the depth chart as the starting strongside linebacker
• Speaking of strongside linebackers, redshirt safety Larry Franklin has bulked up and is now a linebacker, backing up Butler
• As you probably know, redshirt freshman Lafonte Thourogood, who was well regarded as a prep receiving prospect but chose Vandy for a shot at quarterback, will start his playing career as a running back
• In a big surprise, redshirt sophomore Grant Ramsay, who rode the bench last season, is on the depth chart as the backup left tackle to Wesley Johnson, but how long can he hold off true freshman Andrew Jelks?
• Sophomore Spencer Pulley, who played some at guard last season, is projected to be the starting center, and sophomore Joe Townsend, who practiced some at center last year, is currently listed as the starting left guard, ahead of two natural tackles, James Lewis and Kevin McCoy
• Redshirt freshman Darien Bryant, who’s flipped from defensive end to tight end since arriving in Nashville, will apparently stay at tight end, where he’ll battle fellow redshirt Steven Scheu for playing time
• Redshirt freshman Jacquese Kirk, who was ranked as a cornerback when he signed last year, will apparently stay at receiver, where he’s on the depth chart behind Wesley Tate as the third receiver
• Redshirt freshman Andrew Williamson, who was impressive in last year’s preseason camp, is listed as a backup free safety to Kenny Ladler (Javon Marshall is listed as injured), and fellow redshirt freshman Jahmel McIntosh may have found a home at strong safety
• Redshirt freshman Conor Hart, who was signed as a defensive end and played some offensive line on the scout team last year, is on the depth chart as a defensive tackle
• Signee Tip McKenzie, listed as a running back and athlete by recruiting services, will begin his Vandy career as a slot receiver and likely a return specialist
• Signee Stephen Weatherly, listed at both end and linebacker, is on the depth chart as a defensive end behind redshirt freshman Jimmy Stewart
• Signee Paris Head, listed as both a cornerback and safety by recruiting services, is on the depth chart as a cornerback
• Signee Brandon Banks, listed as an athlete but touted as a receiver by Josh Grady, will apparently start his Vandy career as a cornerback
• Signee Torey Agee, listed by recruiting services as a defensive end, is on the depth chart as a defensive tackle
• Signee Ladarius Banks, often listed by recruiting services as a defensive end, will apparently play defensive tackle in college, as expected
• Signee Harding Harper, ranked as both a middle and outside linebacker, is on the depth chart as a middle backer, behind fellow signee Jacob Sealand

• The only player listed as second team is Darreon Herring, at weakside linebacker behind Archibald Barnes.
• Members of the recent signing class listed at third team are Corey Batey (X receiver), Tip McKenzie (F-11 receiver), Adam Butler (right guard), Blake Fromang (right tackle), Barrett Gouger (center), Andrew Jelks (left tackle), Torren McGaster (cornerback), Jacob Sealand (middle linebacker) and Ja’Karri Thomas (strongside linebacker). Of course, these guys are listed so high because of lack of depth at their positions.
• Three of our four-star recruits, RB Brian Kimbrow and DEs Caleb Azubike and Stephen Weatherly, are listed at fourth team. That’s because the depth chart is at this point largely based on seniority.

• R-SO Chris Boyd is listed ahead of R-JR Brady Brown at X receiver.
• R-FR Jacquese Kirk and FR Tip McKenzie are listed ahead of R-SO Trent Pruitt at F-11 (or third) receiver.
• R-SO Andrew Bridges is listed ahead of R-JR Mylon Brown at right tackle. Brown started at right guard last season before being losing the job to Josh Jelesky.

• R-FR Kellen Williams, son of former NFL star Reggie Williams, turned heads last season and is currently listed as the backup middle linebacker; expect to see this guy knock some heads on special teams
• R-SR Jameson Sackey was on the depth chart last season at receiver and could find a supporting role this year
• R-JR Marc Panu will see his usual action on special teams and may get some snaps as Fitz Lassing’s backup at fullback
• R-SO Robby Barbieri saw special teams action in three games last season

(As best we could tell)

• Quarterback: R-SR Jordan Rodgers, followed by R-JR Austyn Carta-Samuels, R-FR Josh Grady, R-FR Kris Kentera, FR Patton Robinette and walk-on John Townsley
• Running back: SR Zac Stacy, followed by R-JR Warren Norman, R-FR Lafonte Thourogood and FR Brian Kimbrow
• Z receiver/flanker: JR Jordan Matthews, followed by JR Jonathan Krause and walk-on Daniel Hagaman
• X receiver/split end: R-SO Chris Boyd, followed by R-JR Brady Brown, FR Cory Batey, walk-on Jameson Sackey and walk-on Steve Monk
• F-11 receiver/third WR in one-back set: R-JR Wesley Tate, followed by R-FR Jacquese Kirk, FR Tip McKenzie and R-SO Trent Pruitt
• H-back: JR Fitz Lassing, followed by walk-on Marc Panu
• Tight end: R-SR Austin Monahan, followed by SO Dillon van der Wal, R-FR Steven Scheu and R-FR Darien Bryant
• Center: SO Spencer Pulley, followed by R-FR Jose Valedon and FR Barrett Gouger
• Left guard: SO Joe Townsend, followed by R-FR James Lewis and FR Kevin McCoy
• Right guard: R-SR Josh Jelesky, followed by R-FR Jake Bernstein and FR Adam Butler
• Left tackle: R-JR Wesley Johnson, followed by R-SO Grant Ramsay, FR Andrew Jelks and FR Will Holden
• Right tackle: R-SO Andrew Bridges, followed by R-JR Mylon Brown and FR Blake Fromang

• Left defensive tackle: R-SR Rob Lohr, followed by JR Jared Morse, R-SO Vince Taylor and FR Torey Agee
• Right defensive tackle: R-SR Colt Nichter, followed by SO Barron Dixon, R-FR Conor Hart and FR Ladarius Banks
• Middle linebacker: JR Chase Garnham, followed by R-FR walk-on Kellen Williams, FR Jacob Sealand, FR Harding Harper and walk-on Patrick Sutton
• Weakside defensive end: R-SR Johnell Thomas, followed by R-SO Kyle Woestmann, R-SO Thomas Ryan and FR Caleb Azubike
• Strongside defensive end: R-JR Walker May, followed by R-JR Thad McHaney, R-FR Jimmy Stewart and FR Stephen Weatherly
• Weakside linebacker: R-SR Archibald Barnes, followed by FR Darreon Herring and walk-on Robby Barbieri
• Strongside linebacker: JR Karl Butler, followed by R-FR Larry Franklin and FR Ja’Karri Thomas
• Cornerback 1: SR Trey Wilson, followed by SR Eddie Foster, FR Torren McGaster, FR Brandon Banks and walk-on Josh Gregory
• Cornerback 2: JR Andre Hal, followed by JR Steven Clarke, R-FR Derek King and FR Paris Head.
• Free safety: JR Kenny Ladler, followed by R-FR Andrew Williamson and a walk-on whose name was too blurry to read (we could tell he was a walk-on because he didn’t have a photo next to his name)
• Strong safety: SR Eric Samuels, followed by R-FR Jahmel McIntosh and walk-on Scot Aiello

• Punter: R-SR Richard Kent followed by walk-on Taylor Hudson
• Kicker: R-SR Ryan Fowler and JR Carey Spear
• Snapper: R-SO Andrew East, followed by walk-on Connor Morrison as well as position players including C Jose Valedon and DT Rob Lohr


Anonymous said...

Big surprises on the O-line. Also interesting to see Brady Brown still hanging around. Will be interesting to see if he gets some meaningful PT this year. Hate to see Mason Johnston hang 'em up...he was a solid player.

Anonymous said...

Hope your assessment isn't completely accurate, since Weatherly was recruited to play weakside linebacker. I know he's up to 225lbs and down to a 4.43 40yd; would hate to see that used with hands in the dirt. Saw him @ training running routes and couldn't believe that there was no consideration as a receiver. He also did some one-on-ones as a DB, and I couldn't believe that he was stride for stride with some impressive receivers......#versatilerecruit

Dimon K-H said...

Again, this is not my assessment. It's where these guys were placed on the depth chart after they were signed. If he can play weakside linebacker, he'll probably get a shot there, especially if Vandy can get some big, SEC-caliber defensive ends. But historically Vanderbilt has put guys like Walker May and now Weatherly at defensive end. I'd love to see him at linebacker and you're right, he's a freakish athlete.

Jayden said...

Lots of good info in this post, so I'll just go down the list add any comments that may be relevent:

-Yes, Mason Johnston will not return, which leaves the team with limited TE depth. This may give Scheau an advantage as a blocking TE for PT over Van Der Wal, but with how little impact a guy like Barden had last season, it may not make a difference.

-Norman's knee may still be bothering him some and could limit him during spring practices

-I still think Butler will be more of a tweener LB/S. Strong will get most of the snaps as a starting LB once 100% healthy.

-The safety situation with Samuels will be interesting to see, since he was primarily the starting nickel corner last year. If he plays more in base packages, Butler might fill a similar role this year.

-Ramsay is a backup right now simply due to numbers. You will see a true frosh in the game before Grant gets meaningful snaps.

-Ryan Seymour will be the starting LG

-Sackey did not return to the team.

-Mylon Brown will not see a lot of snaps this year, either spring ball or during the season. Bridges will start at RT if the move Wes Johnson back to LT

Just remember that the names in that conference room can get moved around while coaches are brainstorming. I know at one point late last summer, Sean Richardson was listed as a starting LB, but took almost every defensive snap as a safety.

Dimon K-H said...

Thanks, Jayden. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

great info do you know so much?

Simon said...

No way Eric Samuels beats out Javon Marshall for playing time.

Jayden said...

It's a possibility. Marshall and Ladler rotated at the same safety spot last year, and depending on how much of the spring he misses recovering from surgery, maybe the coaches wont feel comfortable with him learning a new position in such short time. But seeing how much they split time last year, it could just be adding Samuels to the rotation and using someone new this year in the nickel.

Dimon K-H said...

Also keep in mind that this depth chart doesn't contain injured players, including Marshall, Strong and the two Seymours.

Anonymous said...

Dimon - ever thought about doing more journalistic things with this blog? interviews, stories, etc. (e.g., would love to read an interview between MV and Franklin). either way, MV remains on my favorites.