Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Vandy redshirt freshmen will fare next season

A couple of days ago, we told you which true freshmen have the best chance to avoid redshirts and play right away. But what about the redshirt freshmen?

Of last season's 18 scholarship recruits, seven of them avoided a redshirt, but only at three positions:
• Wide receiver: Brady Brown and Collin Ashley (Ashley has since left school)
• Cornerback: Eddie Foster, Eric Samuels and Trey Wilson
• Running back: Warren Norman and Zac Stacy

The previous season, only Sean Richardson and Casey Hayward escaped redshirt seasons (John Cole was injured in the opener), and the rest played the following roles last season as redshirt freshmen:

• Regular starters: Receiver John Cole, kicker Ryan Fowler
• Part-time starter: Offensive tackle Ryan Seymour
• Backups and special teams players: Linebackers Archibald Barnes, Dexter Daniels, DeAndre Jones and Tristan Strong, offensive tackle Caleb Welchans, receiver Akeem Dunham, defensive ends Josh Jelesky and Johnell Thomas, defensive tackle Rob Lohr, defensive backs Al Owens and Micah Powell
• Limited or no playing time: Offensive lineman Richard Cagle, defensive tackles Colt Nichter, Taylor Loftley and John Burrow; walk-on punter Richard Kent

Expect more of the same, with a handful of guys competing for starting positions and a log jam of fresh talent providing depth and special teams talent. Here's a preview of who'll be available and how they might fare:


• WESLEY JOHNSON, OL (6-4, 252): One of Vandy's top recruits of 2009 who'd have been a four-star guy if he was heavier. Spent last season packing on 15 pounds and impressing coaches with his athleticism. Has practiced at all three line positions, and looks to us like an excellent prospect at center. Should push senior Joey Bailey at center and a host of candidates at guard. Needs to keep adding weight (and surely weighs more than his listed 252), but expect him to nail down a starting job by mid-season.

• MYLON BROWN, OL (6-5, 300): A two-star guy last year, probably because he missed his senior year with a broken leg. Is huge, has quick feet and good bloodlines (nephew of Jerome Brown). Impressed coaches as a tackle on the scout team last season. With James Williams and Ryan Seymour penciled in as tackles, expect Brown to compete for a starting job at guard. At the least, he should earn a spot in the playing rotation at either guard or tackle.

• JAY FULLAM, S (6-1, 190): A two-star Chattanooga private school kid who impressed coaches in preseason camp and appeared to be a lock to play as a true freshman until he tore ligaments in his right hand and missed two months of contact. His name's being mentioned as a candidate to fill the vacant starting free safety position, but he'll face stiff competition from true freshmen Kenny Ladler and Andre Simmons, as well as versatile defensive backs Jamie Graham and Eric Samuels.


• WESLEY TATE, RB (6-1, 215): A two- or three-star tailback who impressed coaches and teammates in the preseason, but so did Warren Norman and Zac Stacy. Continued to dazzle on the scout team. Has loads of potential as an every-down SEC back and should get some big carries this season, especially if he can establish himself in the spring as a better option than Kennard Reeves and in the preseason as a better choice than true freshman Rajaan Bennett.

• WALKER MAY, DE (6-4, 210): A skinny kid with 4.5 speed and mixed reviews from the scouting services, but one of the most impressive defensive players on last season's scout team. May be better suited as an outside linebacker, especially with Vandy in the market for some starting outside guys, but expect him to be on the field somewhere.

• JAVON MARSHALL, DB (5-10, 180): One of those two-star guys who flew under the radar, but coaches are excited about the speed and potential he showed as a nickel back on the scout team. Has a reputation as a hard hitter. A swing guy who can play corner or safety. Probably won't push for a starting job but will help avoid a repeat of last season, when true freshmen were thrown into action because of injury.


• MASON JOHNSTON, TE (6-4, 235): A three-star guy who's a tough blocker, but not as athletic a receiver or as big a target as Brandon Barden or Austin Monahan. He's a better option at tight end than Ryan van Rensburg, the fullback who filled in there last season, and he'll earn playing time this season as a backup and special teams guy.

• BLAKE SOUTHERLAND, LB (6-2, 230): A three-star recruit who was an impressive interior linebacker on the scout team. Would have a better chance to play or even start if he was a natural outside backer (you know, Chris Marve has a pretty good grip on the middle) but he'll likely play an important special teams role and get on the field as a backup.

• THAD McHANEY, DE (6-5, 235): A consensus three-star recruit who turned down an offer from Oklahoma, McHaney showed athleticism as a scout team defensive end and should push guys like Theron Kadri, Terrial Brannon, Josh Jelesky, Johnell Thomas, Walker May and maybe even one of the true freshmen for playing time. But that's a lot of guys competing for one starting job alongside Tim Fugger.

• CHARLIE GORO, QB (6-2, 192): Vandy's first-ever Parade All-American, Goro traveled with the team, learned the playbook and frequently ran the offense in practice with the second team. The fastest quarterback on the team, he could be a situational player until he gets his feet wet. Or if he has a big spring and poses a legitimate threat to Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers, he could even prompt coaches to slap a redshirt on Rodgers. People who've seen this kid play rave about his leadership abilities.

• JUSTIN CABBAGESTALK, OL (6-3, 275): A two-star project, he played center on the practice squad last season and will be competing for a spot on the two-deep as either a center or guard.


Clark said...

let the Jonathan Goff era begin in New York!


I hear ya!