Monday, August 16, 2010

Jordan Matthews leads the pack of Vanderbilt freshmen

Coach Caldwell says he's about to decide who wants to play this season and who doesn't — or in the case of the freshmen, who's ready to play and who's not.

With camp heating up, it's a good time to rate the true freshmen and to see whether they're meeting expectations.

1. JORDAN MATTHEWS (FAR EXCEEDS): Initially ranked 2-3 among the freshmen receivers, Matthews has exploded on the scene and has a serious shot at starting.

2. KENNY LADLER (FAR EXCEEDS): One of only two true freshmen listed on the pre-season depth chart, Ladler's making the most of his early enrollment and is giving redshirt freshman Jay Fullam a run for his money at free safety.

3. CHRIS BOYD (FAR EXCEEDS): Though highly rated, many figured the gangly receiver would struggle early, but he looks bigger than advertised and may be better than highly touted redshirt freshman Brady Brown.

4. JONATHAN KRAUSE (FAR EXCEEDS): Though not as physical as Matthews and Boyd, the speedster has dazzled with his leaping catches and will surely play right away.

5. LOGAN STEWART (FAR EXCEEDS): Initially rated behind Grant Ramsay, Stewart has grabbed the backup center position and is getting a ton of reps in preseason camp.

6. VINCE TAYLOR (FAR EXCEEDS): Coaches noted Taylor was leaning on the wrong hand in his stance during camp. Turns out he had broken his hand and didn't want anybody to notice. The kid is tough and has a motor that doesn't quit.

7. STEVEN CLARKE (FAR EXCEEDS): A big-time sleeper out of Miami, Clarke was overshadowed by secondary recruits like Andre Hal and Karl Butler, but he's awed spectators in camp with his athleticism and looks too good to redshirt.

8. CAREY SPEAR (EXCEEDS): While passed off as a punter, Spear is a natural kicker and is listed as Ryan Fowler's backup on the preseason depth chart. Whether he actually plays this year remains to be seen, but he'll seriously contend for kickoff duties.

9. JAMES KITTREDGE (FAR EXCEEDS): Expected to get lost in crowd at defensive tackle, Kittredge has moved to fill the staggering losses on the offensive line and has been a pleasant surprise, outplaying highly rated guard Grant Ramsay.

9. KARL BUTLER (EXCEEDS): A big and strong kid who can play corner but is likely headed to safety, Butler hasn't disappointed and will be ready to play if called upon.

10. ANDRE HAL (STEADY): A little guy with shut-down potential at cornerback, Hal has lacked the preseason flash of Clarke but remains a contender for playing time.

11. JARED MORSE (EXCEEDS): Looks the part at defensive tackle, with a good motor and a nasty streak, as evidenced by his recent clash with hulking offensive tackle Mylon Brown.

12. KYLE WOESTMANN (STEADY): In great shape and brimming with confidence, Woestmann has a great future but may not be able to crack into the two-deep this season.

13. GRANT RAMSAY (STEADY): A big guy and a great prospect, Ramsay is a step behind Stewart and Kittredge for playing time but still has time to catch up, and with all the injuries, all of them may play this season.

14. FITZ LASSING (EXCEEDS): Moved from tight end to linebacker and back again, Lassing's getting plenty of reps since the injury to Austin Monahan and just may play as a true freshman, something that wasn't expected.

15. ANDRE SIMMONS (STEADY): Appears to be a bit behind Ladler and Butler at safety, but remains a fine prospect and has time to close the gap.

16. CHASE WHITE (EXCEEDS): A lanky tackle prospect, White seemed a sure-fire redshirt but has been in the two-deep rotation since day one.

17. ANDREW BRIDGES (STEADY): At 240 pounds, he should be the last true freshman lineman in line to burn his redshirt, but has a huge frame and is an exciting prospect for the future.

18. TRENT PRUITT (BELOW): Expected to challenge for playing time and to possibly be more game-ready than any of the other true freshman receivers, Pruitt hasn't made much of a splash in camp so far and could be ready for a redshirt.

19. CHASE GARNHAM (STEADY): While everybody remains wowed by his sub-4.4 40 times, Garnham will likely need a year to mature and hasn't grabbed any headlines in camp.

20. ANDREW EAST (STEADY): The longsnapping prospect continues to fly below the radar and may redshirt.

21. BLAKE GOWDER (BELOW): Like Pruitt, Gowder has great offensive skills and posted huge numbers in Georgia high school, but is a ’tweener who hasn't settled into a clear role and will likely redshirt.

22. THOMAS RYAN (BELOW): With all the talent at defensive end and overshadowed by roommate Kyle Woestmann, Ryan hasn't made much noise in camp and is likely headed for a redshirt.


Anonymous said...

Great Post! Just one question are these the ratings and observations of the position coaches of the players? Or sources "within the program".


Good question. Actually, it's based on media interviews with players and the buzz from people who've visited practice. For example, Vince Taylor told Fox Sports that he thought Morse and Woestmann would get some playing time this year but that no other true freshmen D-lineman (read: Thomas Ryan) would. OK, not rock-solid, but that's why this is a blog and not a news story.

Anonymous said...

Great Post. I thought that it was just my biased opinion that some of the wr's (not freshman) were having a much better camp than some of the upper classmen wr's. The real question now is if Caldwell will have the courage to start the young guys ahead of Brady Brown and others when the season starts. I dont see how the coaching staff can hold back wr's boyd and mathews; they have been really impressive. Caldwell did call Boyd and Mathews his "bookend wr's" in a tenn interview. Larry Smith has also looked sharp and will likely be the opening day starter.


I think the big difference between Caldwell and Johnson will be Caldwell's willingness to play the most talented kids first and take risks necessary to win. As a result, we may lose a game by more points than under the Johnson administration because we're not waiting to get all our points off a fumbled kickoff, but at the same time we just might win some games that Johnson would lose by being conservative. But we'll see.