Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Vanderbilt starts spring practice today ... but who are these guys in the starting lineup?

Here's the starting lineup going into spring practice:

QB: Larry Smith (R-JR)
RB: Warren Norman (SO)
WR: John Cole (R-SO)
WR: Udom Umoh (R-JR)
WR: Brady Brown (SO) or Turner Wimberly (R-SR)
TE: Brandon Barden (R-JR) or Austin Monahan (R-JR)
C: Joey Bailey (R-SR)
RG: Jabo Burrow (R-SO) (pictured above)
RT: James Williams (R-JR)
LG: Wesley Johnson (R-FR)
LT: Ryan Seymour (R-SO)

DT: Adam Smotherman (R-SR)
DT: T.J. Greenstone (R-JR)
DE: Tim Fugger (R-JR)
DE: Teriall Brannon (R-JR) or Theron Kadri (SR)
LB: Chris Marve (R-JR)
LB: John Stokes (SR)
LB: Dexter Daniels (R-SO) or DeAndre Jones (R-SO)
CB: Casey Hayward (JR)
CB: Jamie Graham (R-JR)
S: Sean Richardson (JR)
S: Jay Fullam (R-FR)

The official Vandy site has the complete roster.

Here are some observations going into today's practice:

• Key guys who'll miss spring drills with injury: Tight end Austin Monahan, tackle James Williams, linebacker Tristan Strong and running back Wesley Tate. All should be good to go for the start of the season.

• Larry Smith is the only quarterback on the roster who's thrown a pass in a college game.
• Jared Funk is listed as the second-teamer, followed by junior college transfer Jordan "Have you heard his brother is Aaron Rodgers" Rodgers and redshirt freshman Charlie Goro. Bobby Johnson's talking about how all four quarterbacks will get their chance, which is the exact same thing he said this time last year. It's Larry's job to lose, and Rodgers will get every chance to replace him if he stumbles. Meanwhile, Funk's had his shot and Goro will be treated with the same kid gloves that Larry got his redshirt freshman year.

• Two of the projected starting linemen have never played in a college game: Redshirt freshman Wesley Johnson and redshirt sophomore Jabo Burrow, who didn't play last season as a backup defensive lineman but has added 30 pounds since coming to Nashville.
• Johnson has added 15 pounds during his redshirt season, which means he weighs 265 pounds and would be by far the lightest starting offensive lineman in the SEC.
• Why is redshirt junior Kyle Fischer not a starter? He's SEC big and he's been starting off and on since he was a redshirt freshman and made the league's all-freshman team. The staff has got to be sending him a signal by listing Jabo Burrow, who's 30 pounds lighter and has never played in a college game, as the starter at right guard.

• John Cole is being touted as an all-star candidate. That's a real stretch.
• The third wide receiver is listed as senior Turner Wimberly, whose two starts last season were a sign of how terrible we were at receiver, or Brady Brown, who was highly touted and played as a true freshman but has yet to catch a pass in black and gold.

• Austin Monahan and Brandon Barden are listed as co-starters at tight end for the third straight season. Monahan will sit out the spring with an injury, which will give redshirt freshman Mason Johnston the chance to show what he can do.

• With Tate injured, and with rumors of a possible switch or at least experiment at receiver, redshirt senior Kennard Reeves will get plenty of changes in the spring to stay on the coaches' radar. He's a tough runner who gained 5.5 yards a carry, and with Warren Norman and Zac Stacy likely to be shifted all over the field like chess pieces, expect Reeves to find a home as a durable short yardage back.

• Ryan van Rensburg's name occasionally pops up in discussions about short-yardage situations, but he got a chance to tote the rock last spring and didn't exactly wow anyone, and he's been serviceable as backup tight end and H-back and effective as a special teams guy. He's not listed as a running back on the depth chart.

• Redshirt junior Teriall Brannon and senior Theron Kadri are listed as co-starters opposite junior Tim Fugger.
• Defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone, a redshirt junior, is listed as an all-star candidate over Adam Smotherman, a senior DT and returning starter.

• Jamie Graham is listed on the defensive side of the ball, as a starting cornerback, leaving a bunch of 2009 recruits battling for playing time at nickel or backup corner: sophomores Eddie Foster, Trey Wilson and Eric Samuels and redshirt freshman Javon Marshall.
• Redshirt freshman Jay Fullam is listed as a starter at safety alongside Sean Richardson. His backup? True freshman Kenny Ladler, an early enrollee. But don't be surprised to see some of the corners, including Graham, Wilson and Samuels, step in at safety.

• Speaking of safeties, Micah Powell has added 15 pounds and has moved from the secondary to linebacker.
• Four redshirt sophomores continue to compete for playing time at linebacker. Archie Barnes is listed as a backup to John Stokes at strongside backer, Tristan Strong backs up Chris Marve in the middle, and DeAndre Jones and Dexter Daniels are duking it out at weakside backer. Expect at least one of them to emerge as a force when the season starts.

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