Monday, February 8, 2010

Jonathan Krause tops the list of Vanderbilt recruits who'll avoid redshirts and play as true freshmen

Which members of Vanderbilt's latest signing class have the best chance to play right away? Here's our best guess, from top to bottom:


1. JONATHAN KRAUSE, WR: A speedy little guy who can separate from DBs, Krause has a shot to start right away alongside Udom Umoh and John Cole. Scout lists him as having a sub-4.4 40, but Rivals clocked him at 4.41. Still, he's faaaast.

2. CHRIS BOYD, WR: Think Brady Brown last season. Boyd's still growing into his long body, so he could either present immediate match-up problems or take a while to develop. But because of Vandy's dearth of receivers, he's going to burn his redshirt and develop on the field.

3. TRENT PRUITT, WR: Think Collin Ashley from last year. He's the lowest rated of the four receiver prospects, but he's smart, runs crisp routes, and may be the most game-ready. Could return punts, too.

4. KENNY LADLER, S: Ladler's enrolled in school and hitting the weights, and he should be competing with redshirt freshmen Jay Fullam and Javon Marshall and sophomores Al Owens and Micah Powell for playing time at safety. And he'll have a leg up when fellow freshman Andre Simmons arrives on campus in the summer.


5. JORDAN RODGERS, QB: At quarterback, Vandy's got Larry Smith and three guys (Rodgers, Charlie Goro and Jared Funk) who've never thrown an NCAA pass. But Rodgers won a junior college national championship and appears to be the guy to either push Smith to be better or replace him altogether. If Rodgers struggles to adjust and can't out-perform Goro or Funk, then expect him to redshirt. But that's not likely.

6. ANDRE HAL, CB: Hal's a little light at 170 pounds, but the kid didn't surrender a completion during his senior year, and Eddie Foster showed last season that you don't need weight to pack a punch. Natural corners Jamie Graham and Eric Samuels may wind up as starters at safety and nickel (with Foster and Trey Wilson fighting to start at corner alongside Casey Hayward), freeing up Hal to get his feet wet as a backup corner and special teams guy.

7. VINCE TAYLOR, DT: The Commodores, which have rarely played more than three or four D-linemen in games, have two returning starters (Adam Smotherman and T.J. Greenstone) and two sophomores with game experience (Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter). Expect Taylor, the heftiest of the three newbies, to have the best shot of playing right away.

8. CAREY SPEAR, K: If Spear proves himself to be superior to Ryan Fowler on kickoffs, as expected, then he'll likely get that job as a true freshman, as well as long field goals. And if walk-on Richard Kent struggles as the starting punter, Spear could assume that role too.

9. GRANT RAMSAY, OL: With a truckload of veteran linemen leaving school, Vandy needs sturdy backups fast and will probably burn the redshirt off one of the four signees. Ramsay appears the most ready, though Logan Stewart may also be an option.


10. JARED MORSE, DT: The Commodores have the numbers at tackle, but need to upgrade their talent. Morse is a tall, quick guy who may be an instant upgrade but also needs to add another 25 pounds.

11. RAJAAN BENNETT, RB: Everybody says Bennett is too good to redshirt. But he's not going to beat out Warren Norman and Zac Stacy, at least not right away, and redshirt freshman Wesley Tate will get every chance to strut his stuff. And Kennard Reaves is a bruising senior who's paid his dues. Bennett could play as a true freshman if he's unstoppable in preseason camp or if somebody goes down with injury, and both of those are possibilities.

12. JORDAN MATTHEWS, WR: Just a hunch, but Matthews, who played against weaker competition in high school, may be the least ready of the freshmen to play right away. If sophomore Akeem Dunham, another tall, athletic receiving project, can step up his game then Matthews may redshirt and have a year to prepare for the SEC. But that's a big if.

13. KYLE WOESTMANN, DT: Woestmann was the only recruit from the Atlanta area with a Georgia offer, and he's an unmistakeably talented prospect. He also weighs 250 pounds, which means Vince Taylor may have the edge at tackle in preseason camp. Defensive end, where Vandy's already eight deep, could be Woestmann's ticket this season if he dominates on the outside during preaseason camp.

14. KARL BUTLER, DB: Butler and Hal received almost identical ratings from scouts, but Butler is bigger and more versatile. He may lack Hal's cover skills, but he can play safety and could get a shot at playing time.


15. LOGAN STEWART, OL: Stewart's packed on 25-30 pounds since verbally committing last summer, and may get a shot to burn his redshirt, especially if backups like Chris Aaron and Richard Cagle don't elevate their games.

16. ANDRE SIMMONS, S: Simmons will get a shot, and appears to be a better long-term prospect than redshirt freshmen Fullam and Marshall and sophomores Powell and Owens. But if Samuels and Graham can fill in at safety and Ladler emerges in the spring as an early entry freshman, then Simmons might redshirt.

17. BLAKE GOWDER, TE/HB: The 6-2, 210-pound Gowder can't touch massive veterans Brandon Barden and Austin Monahan as a tight end, and redshirt frosh Mason Johnston appears to be a nice backup. So expect Gowder to redshirt unless the receiving corps struggles and the Commodores decide to throw him in the fire as a receiver.

18. JAMES KITTREDGE, DL: Kittredge is in the same boat as Woestmann. A bit too light for tackle right now, but could be just right as an end, if he can fight off a boatload of competition, including promising redshirt freshmen Walker May and Thad McHaney.

19. STEVEN CLARKE, CB: Numbers-wise, Vandy's in better shape this season in the secondary and Clarke is the least regarded of the new DBs, though he is the fastest. So expect him to redshirt unless he demonstrates better cover skills than Hal.

20. CHASE WHITE, OL: White's plenty tall and approaching playing weight, but is still considered a project at tackle. Expect him to redshirt.


21. FITZ LASSING, TE/LB: With Vandy set at tight end and linebacker, expect Lassing to redshirt unless the Commodores have an unexpected breakdown in the punting game. But Lassing wasn't recruited as a punter and likely won't burn a redshirt to boot the ball.

22. THOMAS RYAN, DE: Ryan's a nice prospect but with all the competition at end, and with fellow freshman Kittredge appearing to be more game-ready, he's a lock to sit out his first year.

23. CHASE GARNHAM, LB: With five young linebackers already competing for one starting job, the speedy but slight Garnham will definitely take a redshirt and pack on some pounds.

24. ANDREW BRIDGES, OL: A redshirt if ever one there was. Bridges stands 6-foot-6 and weighs about 235. He'll be joining the Thomas Welch pack-on-the-fat workout program.


Aaron said...

Good post but I'd disagree with your assessment of Jordan Matthews. I think he will get his shot because he he has height and is much more fluid as a runner than Boyd. He also supposedly really impressed the Vandy coaching staff when he camped here, why he garnished an offer after that camp. He may have played against some weaker competition, but his school isn't a powerhouse either, in fact it really isn't known as a football school. I personally think that every WR will have a chance to prove themselves at sometime next yr.


Aaron, you make good points. No doubt that the coaching staff is excited about Matthews and that he could have the biggest upside of the four. Like I said, it was just a hunch. I do wonder if we're really going to play four receivers as true freshmen. We played two last year and are probably sorry we didn't redshirt Brady Brown. But I agree that Matthews is much more fluid as a runner than Boyd, and that Boyd could redshirt instead of Matthews. But I do think it makes a difference that Boyd played 5A ball in Georgia and Matthews played 1A ball in Alabama. At least, it was hard to tell on game film how good Matthews really is. The SEC game will be much faster for both those guys, but it should be a bigger adjustment for Matthews.