Friday, February 5, 2010

Bobby Johnson names a starting punter... but not a quarterback

Bobby Johnson was just full of interesting information during his signing-day press conference. Here’s a sample:

• VANDY’S FINALLY GETTING OFFENSIVE LINEMEN WHO ARE ALREADY BIG: Sure, guys like Chris Williams and Thomas Welch leave campus big, but they arrive as projects. “Now we’re getting the big guys,” Johnson said, citing Grant Ramsay, Logan Stewart and Chase White, all of whom are at least 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds. He said one or two of them could provide depth and play as true freshmen. “They don’t have to gain weight, just learn a lot, but they’re smart guys,” he told 104 The Zone yesterday. Only Andrew Bridges is a throwback at 6-6, 245 and a certain redshirt. Expect either Ramsay or Stewart to see some time at guard this season.

• THE DEFENSIVE LINEMEN ARE THE STRENGTH OF THIS CLASS: The defensive linemen usually redshirt at Vandy, too, but Johnson was almost gushing over his five defensive linemen — tackles Kyle Woestmann,Vince Taylor and Jared Morse and ends James Kittredge and Thomas Ryan. Kittredge can play tackle too, and Johnson said Woestmann could play inside or outside. He called these guys “probably the most ready-to-go defensive line we’ve ever recruited.” That’s an understatement. He said he expects them to “push some people and be a force.” Sophomores Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter should be especially wary.

• EVERY FROSH WIDE RECEIVER WILL GET A SHOT AT PLAYING TIME: Johnson mentioned 6-foot-4 Chris Boyd first, saying he will “be a presence right away” and “can handle all kinds of coverage.” And besides, Boyd just became an Eagle Scout (only at Vanderbilt). Another 6-4 guy, Jordan Matthews is the “big presence we need,” according to Johnson. He praised Jonathan Krause for his speed and agility, and also singled out Trent Pruitt as “one of those slot guys.” And as a coach’s son, “he knows how to please coaches.” While Pruitt was the least decorated of the receiver recruits, he runs crisp routes and could be one of the first freshmen to see the field, just like John Cole in 2008 and Collin Ashley in 2009.

• WALK-ON RICHARD KENT IS THE STARTING PUNTER: Johnson has mentioned several times in the past few days that Richard Kent, a redshirt sophomore, will be the starting punter. Freshman Carey Spear, expected to challenge Ryan Fowler at least for kickoff duties, will likely be the backup punter unless LB/TE Fitz Lassing somehow avoids a redshirt and establishes himself as the second best punter on the team.

• SPEEDY LB CHASE GARNHAM WILL REDSHIRT, THEN ASSUME A BUGGS-LIKE ROLE: Johnson said that Garnham, who moved from safety as a senior, will be used in the same way the team used Marcus Buggs. Except Garnham is about four inches taller.

• RAJAAN BENNETT COULD REDSHIRT: Johnson has said several times in the last few days that prize recruit Bennett could redshirt. If he doesn’t run wild in preseason camp, expect Bennett to travel with the team and be ready to play in the event of injury. Many experts, though, believe Bennett is too good to keep off the field. And don’t forget that Johnson had pegged Warren Norman for a redshirt before last season and he became the SEC’s freshman of the year.

• JOHNSON, ALREADY IN PRESEASON MODE, IS BEING COY ABOUT THE QUARTERBACKS: While he’s quick to name a starter at punter, Johnson is setting the stage for a battle between Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers for the QB job. (Though he didn’t forget to mention Charlie Goro and Jared Funk. Hey coach, you forgot Matt Casas.) Junior college product Jordan Rodgers sure looked the part at the press conference on Wednesday, talking about how he hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps, and how “as a quarterback you want to go to a place where you compete at the highest level,” and how he’s been getting advice from Jay Cutler, and why he chose Vanderbilt (“the country music definitely didn’t hurt”).



We have a particularly large Moral Victory! audience in the Orient.

1050 lb. said...

Unless Larry has a world-beating spring, I'd say Rodgers will be the QB.


I don't know. Rodgers sure sounded great on the podium on Wednesday and everybody's impressed with his NFL bloodlines and his meetings with Jay Cutler. But I watched some of his film and wasn't blown away. Larry's a more fluid athlete and has a much stronger arm. Of course, he's got to make the right reads and be a leader. Either Rodgers is going to push Larry to earn the starting job or he's going to steal Larry's job. Right now I predict Larry will start the season No. 1, but it'll be an interesting spring and pre-season.

Russ said...

I know the QBs are the first to be judged. Larry was about ten drop passes away from having Vandy in a bowl game. Fix the problem (RECEIVERS).