Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You could see Vanderbilt play Tennessee — or Elon, UConn and Army — for $20 through an online broker

Impressed that the Vandy ticket office has lowered prices for Elon tickets to $12? Don't be. You could get them right now on StubHub for $3, and that's the highest they've been all summer.

While we were on the ticket broker website, we checked on prices for all the other Vandy games this season. Here are all the prices (fees and taxes not included), from least to most expensive:

1. Elon: Nashville. $3
2. Wake Forest: Winston Salem, N.C. $4
3. Connecticut: Nashville. $6
4. Army: Nashville. $10
5. Tennessee: Knoxville. $20
6. Kentucky: Nashville. $23
7. Ole Miss: Nashville. $25
8. Arkansas: Nashville. $35
9. Alabama: Tuscaloosa, Ala. $35
10. South Carolina: Columbia, S.C. $39
11. Georgia: Nashville. $49
12. Florida: Gainesville, Fla. $54

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just two freshmen on the depth chart is a good thing

So is it a good thing or a bad thing that we have only two true freshmen (center Joe Townsend and guard Spencer Pulley) on our depth chart for the opening game against Elon?

Well, last season we had a whopping eight true freshmen on our depth chart for the opening game against Northwestern, and we went 2-10.

In 2009, we had five true freshmen on our depth chart for the opening game against Western Carolina, and we went 2-10.

And in 2008, we had zero true freshmen on our depth chart for the opening game against Miami-Ohio, and we of course went 7-6 and beat Boston College to win the Music City Bowl.

Our only touchdown in that game, by the way, was scored by true freshman Sean Richardson, who was on the punt coverage team.

So maybe it's a good thing that we're not relying on a bunch of true freshmen to carry us in the first game.

Here's how many true freshmen played in each of those seasons:

• 2010: Thirteen — WR Jordan Matthews, WR Jonathan Krause, OL James Kittredge, OL Logan Stewart, S Kenny Ladler, S Andre Simmons, K Carey Spear, LB Chase Garnham, CB Andre Hal, CB Steven Clarke, S Karl Butler, DT Jared Morse and TE Fitz Lassing.

• 2009: Seven — RB Zac Stacy, RB Warren Norman, CB Eddie Foster, CB Trey Wilson, CB Eric Samuels, WR Collin Ashley, WR Brady Brown.

• 2008: Two — CB Casey Hayward and S Sean Richardson.

Being on the opening day roster doesn't ensure that a true freshman will play. Last season, Chase White was listed as a second-team tackle on opening day and through much of the season, but he never played and was redshirted. Meanwhile, the other two true freshmen offensive linemen on the roster, James Kittredge and Logan Stewart, both burned their redshirts playing center after starter Joey Bailey went down. Kittredge was thrown into the fire first, struggled, and was replaced by Stewart, who finished out the season.

Brandon Barden and Barron Dixon are MV! fan favorites

I know you’ve been wondering what happened to our exciting poll. Well, we’ve tallied all the numbers and come up with the first annual MV! TOP 25 VU PLAYERS and the first annual MV! TOP 10 VU FRESHMEN. That means the 25 players and 10 freshmen you think will see the most meaningful playing time at their respective positions.

Here goes:

1. Brandon Barden, TE, R-SR (97 percent)
2. Casey Hayward, CB, SR (96 percent)
3. Chris Marve, LB, R-SR (94 percent)
4. Warren Norman, RB, JR (94 percent)
5. Wesley Tate, ATH, R-SO (94 percent)
6. Sean Richardson, S, SR (92 percent)
7. Zac Stacy, RB, JR (92 percent)
8. Tim Fugger, DE, R-SR (92 percent)
9. T.J. Greenstone, DT, R-SR (91 percent)
10. Kenny Ladler, S, SO (88 percent)
11. Jordan Matthews, WR, SO (88 percent)
12. Rob Lohr, DT, R-JR (88 percent)
13. Walker May, DE, R-SO (88 percent)
14. Kyle Fischer, OL, R-SR (86 percent)
15. Jonathan Krause, WR, SO (86 percent)
16. Ryan Seymour, OL, R-JR (86 percent)
17. Javon Marshall, S, R-SO (85 percent)
18. Kyle Woestmann, DE, R-FR (84 percent)
19. Wesley Johnson, OL, R-SO (81 percent)
20. Eddie Foster, CB, JR (80 percent)
21. Larry Smith, QB, R-SR (78 percent)
22. Colt Nichter, DT, R-JR (77 percent)
23. Chase Garnham, LB, SO (75 percent)
24. Austin Monahan, TE, R-JR (71 percent)
25. Trey Wilson, CB, JR (70 percent)

1. Barron Dixon, DT (42 percent)
2. Derek King, CB (36 percent)
3. Jacquese Kirk, ATH (33 percent)
4. Dillon van der Wal, TE (33 percent)
5. Lafonte Thourogood, ATH (25 percent)
6. Darien Bryant, DE (23 percent)
7. Jerron Seymour, RB (22 percent)
8. Spencer Pulley, OL (21 percent)
9. Jake Bernstein, OL (18 percent)
10. Josh Grady, QB (16 percent)

Feel free to disagree, but remember that these are not the official picks of the MV! staff. These are fan picks. We’ll share our own thoughts, especially our annual look at which freshmen have the best shot at playing this season, in a day or two.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Only two true freshmen on Vanderbilt depth chart

Coach James Franklin released his depth chart today, without a ton of surprises. Only two true freshman, offensive linemen Joe Townsend and Spencer Pulley, are on the depth chart, but Franklin says he plans to play as many guys as he possibly can against Elon, to include true freshmen.

The differences between the sneak-peek starting lineup that Jeff Lockridge gave fans last week and the real deal are these:

• Wide receiver: Jonathan Krause and Udom Umoh are listed as starters ahead of John Cole.
• Defensive end: Johnell Thomas, instead of Kyle Woestmann, is starting opposite Tim Fugger.
• Safety: Kenny Ladler hangs onto his starting free safety job, instead of losing it to Javon Marshall.

Here’s a breakdown, position by position:

Who’s on first? R-SR Larry Smith
Who’s on second? R-JR Jordan Rodgers
Who’s not mentioned? FR Josh Grady, FR Kris Kentera, FR Lafonte Thourogood
Any surprises? No. Smith has all the physical tools Franklin is looking for. Rodgers, limited in practice, may yet show he has the intangibles. Grady is the clear No. 3.

Who’s on first? JR Zac Stacy
Who’s on second? JR Warren Norman and R-JR Micah Powell
Who’s not mentioned? FR Jerron Seymour and FR Mitchell Hester
Any surprises? Only that Powell, strictly a role player, is ahead of the freshmen. Stacy looks as sharp as ever while Norman hasn’t completely returned from injury. Seymour, who’s been hobbled lately, could be a star as early as this season.

Who’s on first? SO Fitz Lassing
Who’s on second? R-SO Mason Johnston
Who’s not mentioned? R-SO Marc Panu
Any surprises? Only that Johnston, who lined up in the backfield some last year, is now listed at fullback, though he’s certainly capable there.

Who’s on first? SO Jordan Matthews, SO Jonathan Krause and R-SR Udom Umoh
Who’s on second? R-JR Akeem Dunham, R-FR Chris Boyd, R-JR John Cole and R-SO Wesley Tate
Who’s not mentioned? R-FR Trent Pruitt, R-SO Brady Brown, FR Jacquese Kirk
Any surprises? Umoh, who’s had trouble catching the ball in practice, is listed ahead of Cole as the third receiver in the event the team doesn’t open with a fullback. Boyd is apparently returning from injury and Tate is learning the ropes.

Who’s on first? R-SR Brandon Barden
Who’s on second? R-JR Austin Monahan
Who’s not mentioned? FR Dillon van der Wal and FR Steven Scheu
Any surprises? No. Expect to see Lassing and Johnston line up here as well.

Who’s on first? R-SO Wesley Johnson
Who’s on second? FR Joe Townsend
Who’s not mentioned? SO Logan Stewart and FR Jose Valedon
Any surprises? No. Stewart, who started the second half of last year, wore a red jersey throughout camp, while Johnson proved himself a natural here. Townsend, recruited as a defensive lineman, has jumped ahead of fellow frosh Valedon for the time being.

Who’s on first? R-JR Jabo Burrow (left) and R-SO Mylon Brown (right)
Who’s on second? FR Spencer Pulley and R-FR Chase White
Who’s not mentioned? R-JR Josh Jelesky and R-FR Grant Ramsay
Any surprises? Only that Jelesky, who moved from defense in preseason, has dropped below two freshmen on the depth chart. He’s a work in progress.

Who’s on first? R-JR Ryan Seymour (left) and R-SR Kyle Fischer (right)
Who’s on second? R-FR Andrew Bridges and R-JR Caleb Welchans
Who’s not mentioned? FR James Lewis and FR Jake Bernstein
Any surprises? No. Bernstein could play guard this season, while the highly regarded Lewis has been injured.

Who’s on first? R-JR Rob Lohr and R-JR Colt Nichter
Who’s on second? SO Jared Morse and R-SR T.J. Greenstone
Who’s not mentioned? R-FR Vince Taylor, FR Barron Dixon and FR Conor Hart
Any surprises? Not really. Nichter had a spectacular preseason, beating out Greenstone. Expect to hear from Taylor and maybe even Dixon before season’s end.

Who’s on first? R-SR Tim Fugger and R-JR Johnell Thomas
Who’s on second? R-FR Kyle Woestmann, R-SO Thad McHaney and R-SO Walker May
Who’s not mentioned? R-JR Dexter Daniels, R-FR Thomas Ryan, FR Darien Bryant and FR Jimmy Stewart
Any surprises? Yeah. Woestmann has been penciled in as a starter since spring but now Thomas, who’s surprised coaches with his athleticism, appears to be the opening day starter.

Who’s on first? R-SR Chris Marve (middle), SO Chase Garnham (strongside), R-JR Tristan Strong (weakside)
Who’s on second? R-JR Archibald Barnes, R-JR DeAndre Jones, R-JR Al Owens
Who’s not mentioned? R-FR Andrew East and R-FR Blake Gowder
Any surprises? No. Garnham’s had a great camp, and Strong reportedly had an edge over Barnes. Expect to see safeties enter the game instead of Jones and Owens.

Who’s on first? SR Casey Hayward and JR Trey Wilson
Who’s on second? SO Andre Hal, JR Eddie Foster and SO Steven Clarke
Who’s not mentioned? FR Derek King
Any surprises? No. Coaches have raved about the development of Wilson. King will likely begin as a special teams star.

Who’s on first? SR Sean Richardson (strong) and SO Kenny Ladler (free)
Who’s on second? R-SO Javon Marshall, JR Eric Samuels, SO Karl Butler, SO Andre Simmons
Who’s not mentioned? FR Andrew Williamson, FR Larry Franklin and FR Jahmel McIntosh
Any surprises? Not really, though Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean got us all excited talking about Javon Marshall starting ahead of Ladler. We think Marshall could still start, at nickel back. Expect to see all six of these guys playing in big games, though maybe not at the same time.

Who’s on first? SO Carey Spear (kickoffs, placekicking)
Who’s on second? R-JR Ryan Fowler
Any surprises? No. Spear, a football player who likes to run down the field and clobber people, has been named special teams captain. Don’t expect Fowler to return for a fifth year.

Who’s on first? R-JR Richard Kent
Who’s on second? R-JR Ryan Fowler
Any surprises? None whatsoever. Kent is the man, and anybody else is an emergency backup.

Who’s on first? R-FR Andrew East (short and long)
Who’s on second? R-JR Rob Lohr (short) and R-SR Brandon Barden (long)
Any surprises? Nope. East, the rare blue-chip long snapper, gets to show his stuff.

Who’s on first? R-JR John Cole and SO Jonathan Krause (punt) and JR Eric Samuels (kick)
Who’s on second? R-SO Wesley Tate (kick)
Who’s not mentioned? JR Zac Stacy (punt), JR Warren Norman and SO Andre Hal (kick)
Any surprises? We don’t think Cole and Samuels will be our top returners by season’s end. Norman is a no-brainer if healthy and we’d love to see what Mitchell Hester could do.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The 12 players Vandy can least afford to lose

Just thinking about the players we can least afford to lose this season. Some superstitious fans hate this kind of talk. If you prefer to call it our most valuable players, that’s great.

You’ll notice some glaring omissions, including guys like Zac Stacy who could make all-conference or surrender his starting position to another veteran (Warren Norman) or even a true freshman (Jerron Seymour). Or a guy like Larry Smith, who’s won a starting job at a critical position but could lose it after one poor performance.

Here’s our list of vital players:

1. LB Chris Marve, R-SR: The heart and soul of our team. If anybody can will us to win, it’s Marve.
2. CB Casey Hayward, SR: A future NFL cornerback and the kind of weapon you need to compete in the SEC.
3. OL Wesley Johnson, R-SO : Our best offensive lineman who can play anywhere on the line.
4. WR Jordan Matthews, SO: The legitimate SEC receiver we’ve been looking for since Earl Bennett left a year early for the NFL.
5. OL Ryan Seymour, R-JR: With Johnson moving to center, he’s by far the best option to play left tackle.
6. TE Brandon Barden, R-SR: A future NFL tight end who’s a versatile weapon capable of making huge plays in big games.
7. S Sean Richardson, SR: A tough hitter and defensive leader. We’ve got a lot of young talent at safety, but we need this guy on the field more than any of them.
8. P Richard Kent, R-JR: No, his leg didn’t fall off last season. He’s rested and booming the ball higher than ever. Could be our unsung hero this year.
9. CB Trey Wilson, JR: Has steadily gotten better every year and is now ready for the action he’ll see when teams throw away from Hayward’s side of the field.
10. WR Jonathan Krause, SO: Lots of questions at receiver, but he and Matthews aren’t among them.
11. OL Kyle Fischer, R-SR: One of our three sure-fire starters on the O-line, he’s one of our largest players, and a seasoned veteran and leader.
12. DE Tim Fugger, R-SR: We’ve got some young talent at end, but Fugger has by far the most experience to go with his speed on the edge.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cornerbacks grab the attention of Vandy beat writers

Brandon Barca, the web guy over at the VU athletic department, has a great feature on the official site in which he asked four Vandy writers covering preseason camp to name the players who’ve stood out to them over the past few week.

The names that kept popping up were WR Jordan Matthews, RBs Zac Stacy and freshman Jerron Seymour, DT Colt Nichter, FS Javon Marshall, K Carey Spear and three cornerbacks – SR Casey Hayward, JR Trey Wilson and SO Andre Hal.


Yes, the writers considered Hayward and Wilson to be among the very best players on the team, and Hal to be one of Vandy’s best defensive players.

So here’s what we have returning at cornerback: A preseason All-SEC pick and All-American candidate (Hayward), a returning starter (Eddie Foster, who received no mention from the writers), one of the best players on the entire team (Wilson), and a young guy who’s suddenly become one of our very best defenders (Hal).

Yes, I’d say cornerback’s definitely a team strength.


Or you could point to the whole secondary, where at safety we have a legitimate All-SEC candidate (Sean Richardson) and a returning starter (Kenny Ladler) but also, according to the writers, another guy who’s suddenly become one of our very best defenders (Marshall) and another young guy who’s been the surprise player of camp (Karl Butler).


The writers also consider defensive line to be a team strength, with Colt Nichter emerging as one of the team’s signature defenders, redshirt freshmen Vince Taylor and Kyle Woestmann showing dramatic improvement, and true freshman Barron Dixon also looking surprisingly sharp. And that doesn’t include returning starters T.J. Greenstone, Rob Lohr and Tim Fugger, or guys like Walker May, Jared Morse and Johnell Thomas.


At linebacker, Chase Garnham often looked like one of the defense’s top players, and Tristan Strong also was a surprise.


On special teams, Carey Spear appears to have grabbed the full-time placekicking duties from Ryan Fowler, and Richard Kent has a rested leg – at least for now – and is booming punts.


On offense, Jordan Matthews and Zac Stacy seem head and shoulders above everybody else – literally in Matthews’ case and figuratively in the case of Z.

Among the freshmen playmakers, RB Jerron Seymour had the entire team buzzing about his ability to accelerate and to cut and make tacklers miss. Fellow RB Mitchell Hester and QB Josh Grady also look like keepers. The Tennessean’s Jeff Lockridge says Grady had good arm strength, which was something recruiting sites have been questioning over the past year or so.

Oh, and redshirt junior running back Micah Powell also got a mention for stepping in capably when Warren Norman got injured. With all the little backs we have, Micah may very well be needed to get some tough inside yards or throw some blocks.


On the line, Wesley Johnson and Kyle Fischer look much improved, and Mylon Brown, whom the Tennessean’s Jeff Lockridge says was slow, fat and lazy last year, looks like a powerhouse as a starting guard. And Josh Jelesky, who moved over from defensive tackle, was also a huge surprise. Jesse Johnson of says Jelesky still looks a little light in the lower body (he’s listed at 265) but he’s got great hand technique and is catching on fast. Of the true freshmen, Spencer Pulley turned in the best performance in camp and just may play this year.


Keep in mind that these ink-stained wretches — or tech geeks, take your pick — are trying to show their expertise and originality by mentioning some names they think the other writers won’t mention. Where’s the excitement in naming Chris Marve as one of the team’s top players?

Many veterans who’ve already grabbed starting positions – TE Brandon Barden, QB Larry Smith, OT Ryan Seymour, DE Tim Fugger and yes, Marve – weren’t mentioned by the writers. That’s nothing to be concerned about. Do we really want Chris Marve leaving it all on the practice field? No.

After opening kickoff, it'll be a whole new ballgame.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What are the youngest positions for Vandy football?

You know how our roster has three true freshmen scholarship quarterbacks? Well, that has us wondering which of our positions are the youngest, and which are the oldest. And no, it’s not always a good thing to be old, as in the case of our linebacking corps. Our youngest position, safety, has nearly as much playing experience as our oldest, linebacker.

Anyway, here’s a ranking from youngest to oldest, with playing experience also listed:

Average age: Sophomore
Average years experience: 1.0
Average age of starters: Junior
Our youngest position with only two upperclassmen in a stable of nine players. And the talent is impressive, with four sophomores and three true freshmen with the ability to start in the SEC. Expect some of these guys to play some linebacker this season.

Average age: Sophomore
Average years experience: 0.75
Average age of starters: Redshirt junior
Of our 16 offensive linemen, half of them have never played in a college football game, and one redshirt junior has never played the position before.

Average age: Sophomore
Average years experience: 0.6
Age of starter: Redshirt senior
Sure, Larry Smith is a redshirt senior, but after that, nobody’s ever played in a college game.

Average age: Redshirt sophomore
Average years experience: 1.0
Average age of starters: Junior
Norman and Stacy are veterans, Powell’s played sparingly and then there’s the two true freshmen

Average age: Redshirt sophomore
Average years experience: 0.8
Average age of starters: Junior
A nice mix of youth and age, at least on paper, but next year the influx of 3-4 true freshmen will create some thinning of the herd here.

Average age: Redshirt sophomore
Average years experience: 1.2
Average age of starters: Redshirt junior
From Barden and Monahan to van der Wal and Scheu, a nice mix of experience and youth.

Average age: Redshirt sophomore
Average years experience: 0.9
Average age of starters: Sophomore
Our shakiest players are the oldest and our most promising are just getting started.

Average age: Redshirt sophomore
Average years experience: 1.5
Average age of starters: Junior
Three upperclassmen and three underclassmen. Not a single redshirt in the bunch.

Average age: Redshirt sophomore
Average years experience: 1.1
Average age of starters: Redshirt junior
Four are upperclassmen and four are underclassmen.

Average age: Junior
Average years experience: 1.1
Average age of starters: Redshirt junior
By far our oldest position, but after Marve, also our shakiest. And the age is deceptive. Half of our linebackers are redshirt juniors, but they have one start among them. Next year, Marve’s loss will hurt, but the arrival of talented true freshmen will create an overall upgrade.

MV! voters like Eddie Foster starting opposite Hayward

We've got some talented cornerbacks, and your voting in the MV! Significant Playing Time Poll reflects that. And the winners are...

1. SR Casey Hayward: 96 percent
2. JR Eddie Foster: 80 percent
3. JR Trey Wilson: 70 percent
4. SO Andre Hal: 63 percent
5. SO Steven Clarke: 46 percent
6. FR Derek King: 36 percent
7. FR Jacquese Kirk: 0 percent
7. SO Reggie Ford: 0 percent

Now it's time to vote for safety.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Out of nowhere, Javon Marshall grabs free safety job

Remember how we broke down the Vanderbilt Football Fact Book last month and could see who the coaches expected to be starters?

Well, thanks to the Tennessean’s Jeff Lockridge, we know who’s been practicing with the first team and who hasn’t, which means we can now look back at the fact book to see who’s living up to expectations, who’s exceeding them, and who’s slipping.

The big winner is Javon Marshall, one of nine players that the factbook implied didn’t have much of a chance to see meaningful playing time. Most of them were redshirt juniors: RB Micah Powell, then-DT Josh Jelesky, DT Taylor Loftley, DE Dexter Daniels and LB Al Owens. Three more were redshirt freshmen: DE Thomas Ryan, LB Blake Gowder and LB Andrew East. Marshall was the only redshirt sophomore.

So Marshall has come out of nowhere to apparently knock returning starter Kenny Ladler, a sophomore, from his position as a starting free safety. Sure, the coaches and factbook writers seemed to think Ladler would get some competition, but from junior Eric Samuels, sophomores Andre Simmons and Karl Butler, and true freshmen Andrew Williamson, Larry Franklin and Jahmel McIntosh instead of from Marshall.

In fact, Marshall is the only current member of the Commodore secondary to ever redshirt. He arrived on campus in 2009 with Eddie Foster, Trey Wilson and Eric Samuels, and he was immediately shown the end of the bench, while the others played as true freshmen.

But his high school coach in Ohio, Jay Minton, was brimming with confidence on signing day about Marshall's chances of contributing at Vandy:

"They're going to love Javon at Vanderbilt, you wait and see. He's going to be one of those guys that will find a way to get on the field. He'll have a positive impact there just like he did here. On the field, Javon is a real tenacious player, and one of the very best tacklers this school has produced. He also has the speed you want in a defensive back and can really move his hips in coverage. Javon also is fundamentally extremely sound in technique.”

Marshall was a two-star guy who was not as ready for the college game as Foster, Wilson and Samuels. Still, an ESPN scouting report recognized his potential as a free safety:

“…Marshall's best football is definitely ahead of him. His reactive athleticism, sound awareness skills and ability to cover a lot of ground quickly project well at free safety. Continued physical development should dictate his success at the next level.”

Marshall weighed 175 pounds when he signed with Vandy, and he’s now hovering around 200. He’s been listed as a cornerback since he got to Vandy, but one of the first things Coach Franklin did in spring practice was move Marshall and Samuels to safety. He's apparently hit the jackpot with Marshall, leaped over seven players on the depth chart.

We look forward to watching Javon flying around in the secondary – and offensive backfields – this season.

Other guys making big leaps on the depth chart are FB Fitz Lassing and OL Mylon Brown. Those guys were considered contenders in their position battles but weren’t exactly expected to be starters on opening day.

On most counts, the factbook was on the money:

The eight guys who were considered sure-fire starters – TE Barden, WR Matthews, OL Seymour, OL Johnson, DE Fugger, CB Hayward, SS Richardson and of course LB Marve – are all practicing with the first team as expected.

And most of the guys expected to be front-runners to start are also winning their position battles – RB Smith, OL Fischer, OL Burrow, DT Lohr and CB Wilson.

Let’s take a look at winners and losers – at least for today – in all the position battles:

• Quarterback: R-SR Larry Smith over R-JR Jordan Rodgers

• Running back: Jr Zac Stacy over JR Warren Norman (injured) and R-SO Wesley Tate (moved to receiver)

• Wide receivers: SO Jordan Matthews and R-JR John Cole over R-FR Chris Boyd (injured), SO Jonathan Krause (injured) and R-SR Udom Umoh

• Tight end: R-SR Brandon Barden

• Fullback: SO Fitz Lassing

• Offensive linemen: R-SO Wesley Johnson and R-JR Ryan Seymour plus R-SR Kyle Fischer, R-JR Jabo Burrow and R-SO Mylon Brown over SO Logan Stewart (injured) and R-JR Caleb Welchans

• Defensive tackles: R-JR Colt Nichter and R-JR Rob Lohr over R-SR T.J. Greenstone, SO Jared Morse and R-FR Vince Taylor

• Defensive ends: R-SR Tim Fugger plus R-FR Kyle Woestmann over R-SO Walker May and R-JR Johnell Thomas

• Linebackers: R-SR Chris Marve plus SO Chase Garnham and R-JR Tristan Strong over R-JR Archibald Barnes

• Cornerbacks: SR Casey Hayward plus JR Trey Wilson over JR Eddie Foster, SO Andre Hal and SO Steven Clarke

• Safeties: SR Sean Richardson plus R-SO Javon Marshall over SO Kenny Ladler, JR Eric Samuels, SO Karl Butler and SO Andre Simmons.

Vandy depth chart update: More bad luck with offensive linemen, and a victory for Javon Marshall

Yesterday, I took a shot at who had starting jobs locked up and who was still fighting for one. Like you, I don't go to practice every day (in fact, I live hundreds of miles away from Nashville) and so I get my information from the VU site and other media outlets and blogs.

With the VU site and even most newspapers, we're at the mercy of James Franklin and what information he feels like releasing after practice. He's usually a very transparent fellow, but lately he's been tight-lipped about injuries and the depth chart.

What we've needed is for somebody who's attending practice to actually pay attention to who's practicing with the first team and who's not. Like, say, one of the Vandy beat writers. Like, say, Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean.

So imagine my delight when I see today that Lockridge has done exactly that and pieced together a starting lineup based on who's been practicing with the first team lately. Great job, Jeff. You da man.

Here's what he's got:

QB: Larry Smith, R-SR
RB: Zac Stacy, JR
FB: Fitz Lassing, SO
WR: Jordan Matthews, SO
WR: John Cole, R-JR
TE: Brandon Barden, R-SR
C: Wesley Johnson, R-SO
LG: Jabo Burrow, R-JR
LT: Ryan Seymour, R-JR
RG: Mylon Brown, R-SO
RT: Kyle Fischer, R-SR


• Fullback: OK, so Franklin is serious about using a fullback, and Lassing is just the kind of heart-and-soul guy and leader we need on the field. By the way, he was offered a scholarship at the last second when several other commitments fell through for us.

• Other possibilities: You'll also see offensive sets employing a second tight end (Monahan), a second running back (Norman or Seymour), and a third wide receiver (Tate, Krause or Cole).

• Receiver: Speaking of Cole, he's been invisible in camp from a publicity standpoint but has apparently been quietly steady and is in the starting lineup, probably temporarily, because Jonathan Krause and Chris Boyd have both had some piddling injuries and because Wesley Tate is still learning the ropes.

• Offensive line: We always unexpectedly lose the services of several key linemen in the preseason and this year has been no exception. Last year, it was James Williams and Chris Aaron. This year it's James Kittredge, who's transferred, and Logan Stewart, who started about half of last season's games at center, is an important cog at either center or guard, and hasn't practiced yet because of a secret injury or something. And freshman tackle James Lewis, a 300-pounder with long arms and a bright future, has been wearing a red jersey too. I knew something was up when Josh Jelesky was suddenly moved to offensive line. That means (1) some established players won't be available and (2) redshirt freshmen like White, Bridges and Ramsay aren't ready for prime time. Now Jelesky's sitting out practice too. Brace yourself, folks.

DE: Tim Fugger, R-SR
DE: Kyle Woestmann, R-FR
DT: Rob Lohr, R-JR
DT: Colt Nichter, R-JR
LB: Chris Marve, R-SR
LB: Chase Garnham, SO
LB: Tristan Strong, R-JR
CB: Casey Hayward, SR
CB: Trey Wilson, JR
S: Sean Richardson, SR
S: Javon Marshall, R-SO


End: No surprise about Fugger and Woestmann, who could be a beast this year. And don't forget that Walker May's been injured.

Tackle: Boy, is Greenstone in the doghouse or what? Franklin said last week he was sick of "babying" the big senior, and he loves Nichter, whom one coach has described as the classic overachiever. Don't forget that Jared Morse and Vince Taylor are in the fold too.

Linebacker: So Marve made the starting lineup after all. Whew. We're not surprised Garnham's starting, and it appears Strong's getting more practice snaps than Barnes, whom Franklin says is also having a good camp. But don't be surprised if Vandy goes with nickle and dime packages instead of playing all three backers at once; Franklin's been talking about that since spring.

Cornerback: No surprise that Wilson will man the corner opposite Hayward, but lots of talent here with returning starter Foster and Andre Hal, who's had a great camp.

Safety: Javon Marshall over Kenny Ladler? Now that's a surprise. Marshall, the only defensive back to have redshirted, has been flying around since camp began. I'd thought if anybody leap-frogged Ladler it would have been Samuels or Simmons. When Marshall signed with Vandy, his high school coach talked about how he wasn't heavily recruited but that he was the kind of player who'd find a way to get on the field. It's taken a while, but looks like he's done it. Franklin also said Karl Butler's had a great camp and could steal playing time from one of the projected starting linebackers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vandy starting lineup: who's still got a dog in the hunt?

No depth chart released yet, though the fearless members of the media ask Coach Franklin every day and he tells them the depth chart will be ready when guys are finished winning the position battles, or sometime before the first kickoff.

We’ve already got an idea who’s won jobs, who’s still fighting for them, and who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt. Here’s a breakdown by position:

Starting: R-SR Larry Smith
Second team: R-JR Jordan Rodgers
Third team: FR Josh Grady

Starting: JR Zac Stacy
Fighting to start: JR Warren Norman vs. FR Jarron Seymour
Second team: FR Mitchell Hester
Others: R-JR Micah Powell

Starting: SO Jordan Matthews and SO Jonathan Krause
Fighting to start: R-FR Chris Boyd vs. R-SO Wesley Tate
Second team: R-JR John Cole and R-SR Udom Umoh
Others: R-FR Trent Pruitt, R-JR Akeem Dunham, FR Jacquese Kirk and R-SO Brady Brown

Starting: R-SR Brandon Barden
Second team: R-JR Austin Monahan and SO Fitz Lassing (fullback)
Third team: R-SO Mason Johnston and R-SO Marc Panu (fullback)
Others: FR Dillon van der Wal and FR Steven Scheu

Starting: R-SO Wesley Johnson, R-JR Ryan Seymour and R-SR Kyle Fischer
Fighting to start: R-JR Jabo Burrow and R-SO Mylon Brown vs. R-JR Josh Jelesky and R-JR Caleb Welchans
Fighting for second team: SO Logan Stewart, R-FR Andrew Bridges and R-FR Chase White vs. R-FR Grant Ramsay, FR Spencer Pulley and FR Jake Bernstein
Others: FR James Lewis, FR Jose Valedon and FR Joe Townsend

Starting: R-SR T.J. Greenstone
Fighting to start: R-JR Rob Lohr and R-JR Colt Nichter vs. SO Jared Morse and R-FR Vince Taylor
Others: FR Barron Dixon and R-SR Taylor Loftley, followed by FR Conor Hart

Starting: R-SR Tim Fugger
Fighting to start: R-FR Kyle Woestmann vs. R-SO Walker May
Second team: R-JR Johnell Thomas
Third team: R-JR Dexter Daniels, R-SO Thad McHaney, FR Darien Bryant, R-FR Thomas Ryan, FR Jimmy Stewart

Starting: R-SR Chris Marve
Fighting to start: SO Chase Garnham and R-JR Archibald Barnes vs. R-JR Tristan Strong
Next up: R-JR DeAndre Jones
Others: R-FR Blake Gowder, R-FR Andrew East, R-JR Al Owens

Starting: SR Casey Hayward
Fighting to start: JR Trey Wilson vs. JR Eddie Foster and SO Andre Hal
Third team: FR Derek King, SO Steven Clarke
Other: SO Reggie Ford

Starting: SR Sean Richardson
Fighting to start: SO Kenny Ladler vs. JR Eric Samuels and SO Andre Simmons
Third team: R-SO Javon Marshall and SO Karl Butler vs. FR Andrew Williamson
Others: FR Larry Franklin and FR Jahmel McIntosh

Now here's a look at how many guys from each class are starting or in the running to start in the opener against Elon:

Starters: QB Larry Smith, TE Brandon Barden, OL Kyle Fischer, DT T.J. Greenstone, DE Tim Fugger, LB Chris Marve

Starters: CB Casey Hayward, S Sean Richardson

Starter: OL Ryan Seymour
In the running: OL Jabo Burrow, OL Josh Jelesky, OL Caleb Welchans, DT Rob Lohr, DT Colt Nichter, LB Archibald Barnes, LB Tristan Strong

Starter: RB Zac Stacy
In the running: RB Warren Norman, CB Trey Wilson, CB Eddie Foster, S Eric Samuels

Starter: OL Wesley Johnson
In the running: WR Wesley Tate, OL Mylon Brown, DE Walker May

Starters: WR Jordan Matthews, WR Jonathan Krause
In the running: DT Jared Morse, LB Chase Garnham, CB Andre Hal, S Kenny Ladler, S Andre Simmons

In the running: WR Chris Boyd, DT Vince Taylor, DE Kyle Woestmann

In the running: RB Jarron Seymour

Six of Vandy's 2011 opponents didn't get AP votes either

Looking at the AP's preseason Top 25 and noticing that five of Vandy’s opponents – Kentucky, Ole Miss, UConn, Wake Forest and Army – did not receive a single vote.

That’s five teams we have a shot at beating. Oh yeah, and we play Elon.

So that’s six teams we’re capable of beating, and we play five of them (everybody except Wake) at home.

A seventh, Tennessee, received a vote from only one of the 60 voters.

Here are our other opponents:
• At Alabama: I dread watching our offense play Bama’s defense.
• Arkansas: This team is loaded and could blow us out.
• Georgia: Lots of talent but we get them at home, where we usually put up a pretty good fight, though I think we’ll have trouble moving the ball against them.
• At South Carolina: A scary-fast defense and lots of offensive playmakers.
• At Florida: A young team loaded with blue-chips but maybe our best chance in a while to pull a surprise. Of course, we thought the same thing last year and lost by a thousand points.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chris Marve wins MV! significant playing time poll which was expected, but - man! - where's the love?

Yes, 84 percent of MV! voters think Chris Marve will get significant playing time this season. Huh? You guys really took Coach Franklin seriously when he said everybody would have to earn his playing time. But in the end, nothing was new here: Marve is the man, and the two outside slots are a horse race between Garnham, Strong and Barnes, with Garnham and Barnes having a slight edge.

Here's the breakdown for linebacker:

R-SR Chris Marve: 84 percent
SO Chase Garnham: 75 percent
R-JR Tristan Strong: 65 percent
R-JR Archibald Barnes: 62 percent
R-JR DeAndre Jones: 34 percent
R-FR Blake Gowder: 25 percent
R-FR Andrew East: 9 percent
R-JR Al Owens: 6 percent

How the addition of Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels affects Vandy's future at quarterback

Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels is coming to Vandy after all, and will be eligible to play next season as a junior. You may remember that he announced in the winter that he was leaving Wyoming, where he was the Mexico Bowl MVP and WAC Freshman of the Year as a true freshman but struggled as a sophomore.

The guess here is that we were holding out hopes we’d get a blue-chip freshman quarterback like Chad Voytik or Nathan Peterman, who ended up verbally committing to Pitt and Tennessee, respectively.

I like the move. It gives us another quarterback with big-game experience. If Larry Smith plays well, avoids injury and starts the entire season, then after he graduates we’ll have no returning players with any meaningful playing time.

And it gives James Franklin 18 months to find a top prep quarterback, while using his remaining scholarships for 2012 on other areas of weakness such as offensive line.

The competition at quarterback should be intense in the spring:

• Rodgers will either have the leg up or will be making one last-gasp attempt to get playing time, while Carta-Samuels will be in the same position Rodgers was last season, but with a better shot at being a two-year starter.

• Josh Grady and Lafonte Thourogood will be competing to see who stays at quarterback for another year and who changes positions.

• Kris Kentera will feel the least amount of pressure and will have at least another year to develop before a position change is considered.

Here are my predictions at what will happen:

1. R-SR Larry Smith: Will start most of the season and perform admirably, with a few minor injuries and some bumps in the road.
2. FR Josh Grady: Will begin as the No. 3 quarterback, but will play against Elon, see some spot duty in short yardage situations, and will eventually overtake Rodgers for the backup position.
3. R-JR Jordan Rodgers: Will begin as the No. 2 quarterback, will spell Smith when he struggles but will eventually drop below Grady on the depth chart.
4. FR Lafonte Thourogood: Will concentrate on quarterback and will redshirt.
5. FR Kris Kentera: Will redshirt while he continues to develop as a passer.

1. SO Josh Grady: Busy competing with Lafonte Thourogood in the spring and proving he deserves to stay at quarterback, starts the season at No. 2 but then passes Carta-Samuels when the Commodores hit the heart of the SEC schedule.
2. R-JR Austyn Carta-Samuels: Passes Rodgers in the spring and then wins a tight race over Grady in preseason camp, but loses the job to Grady by mid-season.
3. R-SR Jordan Rodgers: Goes into preseason camp in a three-way race with Grady and Carta-Samuels before dropping to No. 3 and seeing only spot duty during the season.
4. R-FR Lafonte Thourogood: Makes some nice strides as a quarterback in the spring but the emergence of Grady at quarterback motivates him to move to wide receiver, where he immediately challenges for a starting job.
5. R-FR Kris Kentera: Moves to No. 4 with the departure of Thourogood to receiver and continues to develop.

1. JR Josh Grady: The clear No. 1 quarterback for the Commodores.
2. R-SR Austyn Carta-Samuels: Pushes Grady but finishes his career as a backup with a few starts on his record.
3. R-SO Kris Kentera: Continues to develop into a solid backup quarterback who pushes Carta-Samuels throughout the season for the No. 2 job.
4. FR Blue-chip TBA: Franklin lands a four-star quarterback, who redshirts and is immediately groomed to succeed Grady.

1. SR Josh Grady: Remains Vandy’s starter for his senior year.
2. R-FR Blue-chip TBA: Beats out Kentera in preseason camp.
3. R-JR Kris Kentera: A solid option in the face of injury.
4. FR QB TBA: Redshirts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

MV! voters stick with the big four at defensive end

Before we opened voting in the latest installment of our MV! Significant Playing Time Poll, there was no question who the top defensive ends for Vandy were, and there's no question now that you've voted.

Tim Fugger will likely open the season as a starter at one end, with Walker May and Kyle Woestmann competing for the other slot. Johnell Thomas will also see significant playing time, as the staff plans to take about 12 defensive linemen on the road and rotate a whole bunch of them during games.

After those four guys, it's up in the air. You like Thad McHaney, a redshirt sophomore who was highly touted and had an offer from Oklahoma but has struggled with injury, and Darien Bryant, a true freshman who's a great-looking athlete but needs to put on some weight.

Then there's Dexter Daniels, a redshirt junior who's taking a shot at end after playing sparingly at linebacker most of his career; Thomas Ryan, a three-star prospect at defensive end who redshirted last year; and Jimmy Stewart, a true freshman who's supposedly a speedy pass rusher but needs to put on some pounds.

Not much out of preseason camp about anybody but Fugger, Woestmann, May and Thomas, except for the occasional praise for Bryant and his potential down the road.

Here's a breakdown:
• Tim Fugger, R-SR: 92 percent
• Walker May, R-SO: 88 percent
• Kyle Woestmann, R-FR: 84 percent
• Johnell Thomas, R-JR: 65 percent
• Darien Bryant, FR: 23 percent
• Thad McHaney, R-SO: 23 percent
• Dexter Daniels, R-JR: 19 percent
• Thomas Ryan, R-FR: 15 percent
• Jimmy Stewart, FR: 3 percent

Now time to vote for some linebackers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MV! voters spring no surprises in defensive tackle poll

All right, we've tallied up the defensive tackles in the latest installment of our MV! Significant Playing Time Poll, and now we're moving on to the defensive ends. Maybe we can get this poll finished before the season starts and before Coach Franklin changes everybody's position.

Remember, you want to vote for as many players as you think will get significant playing time, which we define as the majority of any given game or key moments in the very biggest games.

Anyway, here's how y'all voted for the defensive tackles:

1. T.J. Greenstone, R-SR: 91 percent
2. Rob Lohr, R-JR: 88 percent
3. Colt Nichter, R-JR: 77 percent
4. Jared Morse, SO: 57 percent
5. Vince Taylor, R-FR: 51 percent
6. Barron Dixon, FR: 42 percent
7. Taylor Loftley, R-JR: 25 percent

No surprises here. Everybody everywhere seems to think that Greenstone will start at one tackle and Lohr and Nichter will compete for the other starting job. Lohr, you'll remember, started every game last season after Adam Smotherman went down in preseason camp, and Nichter stepped up when Greenstone got hurt.

Jared Morse got some meaningful minutes last season as a true frosh, and redshirt Vince Taylor is ready to get some of those this season. Those guys round out a decent five-man rotation that's fairly interchangeable.

The freshman Barron Dixon will probably travel with the team but we're not sure whether he'll get on the field this season. He'll have to be significantly better than at least one of the five guys ahead of him for the team to burn his redshirt.

Then there's Taylor Loftley, the redshirt junior who's rounding out his Vandy career. We think he'll see spot duty at best.

OK, now go vote for some defensive ends. And if you're wondering where Conor Hart is, he just got moved to defensive tackle. No, you didn't get to vote for him, but that doesn't matter much because it looks like he's redshirting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

UPDATED: Why Franklin moved Wesley Tate to receiver

Just saw on the official VU athletic site that Wesley Tate has moved to wide receiver.

Obviously, Vandy needs wide receivers in the worst way, but not at the expense of a big, every-down back. But Jerron Seymour has emerged as a force, and James Franklin has been calling him an every-down back since the day he faxed in his letter of intent. He’s our every-down back, not Tate, who has the speed and strength but has lacked explosiveness when hitting holes. I can’t forget the blowout against Eastern Michigan last year when we kept giving Tate the ball on the goal line and he kept getting stuffed.

Franklin’s putting together a big puzzle here, and the pieces just fell into place:

1. Seymour has been bursting through holes, pounding defenders and running to daylight since he showed up on campus. We can’t keep this guy off the field.

2. Zac Stacy has lost 10 pounds at Franklin's behest and is now quicker and is what Franklin calls "Mr. Reliable," being able to get the yards he's supposed to get and then take one to the house every now and then.

2. Mitchell Hester’s looking great too, sticking his foot in the ground and making people miss. Franklin said today that he needs to stop cutting back all the time, which is typical for a young back. But he’s clearly going to get some carries.

3. Micah Powell’s had a solid camp and can handle some of the short stuff.

4. Meanwhile, Tate was still a factor at running back and would have played ahead of Powell, but he was not the dominating tailback that fans have fantasized about since he signed with the Commodores. He would have been a role player but not THE man, which coaches had hoped in the spring that he could be. Franklin discussed it Monday with the Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge: "How big of a role? I haven’t determined that yet, but he would have played and contributed as a running back this year for us.”

4. Meanwhile, Jacquese Kirk is struggling with route running – he was primarily a cornerback in high school – and at 160 pounds is still awfully light to be taking on SEC cornerbacks.

5. Chris Boyd has been injured in camp and none of the other guys – Cole, Umoh, Dunham, Pruitt, Brady – has shown that he’s going to start separating from SEC cornerbacks.

6. The coaches have had time to watch film now and know that Cole struggles as a slot receiver to get open and then to advance the ball. No doubt they've been thinking about replacing him in the slot with Tate, who's bigger, faster, stronger and more athletic.

6. Lafonte Thourogood will need to put in some serious work at quarterback if he wants to play that position on the college level. Franklin has promised him a shot at quarterback and he’s not going back on his word, though he’s made it clear that Lafonte can say the word and change positions any time he wants. Looks like Lafonte is sticking with QB for the time being. The emergence of Josh Grady doesn’t really complicate things – Josh was supposed to be more polished and game-ready as a signal caller and we knew Lafonte was a work in progress as a quarterback. Just because he’s not the No. 3 QB this year doesn’t mean he won’t be No. 2 or even No. 1 next year. Bottom line, we may design some plays for Lafonte as a runner and receiver, but if we think he’s the quarterback of the future, we may redshirt him instead of moving him over to wide receiver for a year.

In summary, we think that Tate just didn’t have the stuff to be a top-flight SEC tailback but that with his speed and strength and, yes, bloodlines he could be a nice receiver, especially in the slot. If you disagree with the part about him dominating as a tailback, just note that Franklin said he "would have played and contributed" at running back this season. That's a positive thing to say, but not exactly a ringing endorsement when you're half a foot taller and 30 pounds heavier and faster than some of the guys ahead of you on the depth chart.

I like how Franklin has made so many moves. When he decides that a player isn't going to dominate at his current position, he moves him to another position that plays to his strengths. We saw him do it in the spring with Blake Southerland (whose career ended with an injury), Blake Gowder, Al Owens and Dexter Daniels. In the next few days, you're going to hear him praise Wesley for his progress at receiver, just like he's been praising Josh Jelesky for his work on the offensive line.

This doesn't mean he's going to start, though it very well could. It just means that he thinks he's matched Wes up with a position that suits him and he's going to give him plenty of encouragement.

James Franklin sort of does believe in redshirting

After morning practice, James Franklin said that 250-pound Conor Hart is moving inside to defensive tackle, and he expects him to weigh 270 pounds by spring practice.

He also said that while Jimmy Stewart and Darien Bryant are listed as both defensive ends and linebackers, he wants those guys to stick as ends and to “grow into” that position.

Speaking of gaining weight, he also talked about tight ends Steve Scheu and Dillon van der Wal each putting on another 10-15 pounds – to get in the neighborhood of 265 – to become “some of the most dominating blockers in the nation.” I’ve talked before about van der Wal having the potential to be an offensive lineman. Not sure that that’s what Franklin is talking about here, but it’s definitely a possibility.

It could also mean that all these guys – Hart, Bryant, Stewart, Scheu and van der Wal – could be redshirting.

You know he said he doesn't believe in redshirting. Well, he meant that he doesn't believe in talking about redshirting to kids you just told will get every opportunity to play. A few days ago, he was talking about the progress of Spencer Pulley and Jake Bernstein and said they could play if needed. Clearly, he'd like to redshirt all his offensive linemen.

UPDATED: How high can each Vanderbilt player go?

While everybody’s wondering who’s going to start, let’s take a look at the best that each player could do this season, position by position. This isn’t a prediction of how they’ll do. It’s just a look at each player’s ceiling, meaning the best we think he can possibly do this year.

• Full-time starter: R-SR Larry Smith
• Part-time starters: FR Josh Grady and R-JR Jordan Rodgers
• Role players in certain situations: FR Kris Kentera and FR Lafonte Thourogood
• Mop-up duty: R-SO John Townsley*, FR Taylor Hudson*
• Candidates to redshirt: Kentera and Thourogood

• Lower All-SEC teams: JR Warren Norman and FR Jerron Seymour
• Full-time starter: JR Zac Stacy
• Part-time starter: FR Mitchell Hester
• Role player in certain situations: R-JR Micah Powell

• Lower All-SEC teams: SO Jordan Matthews
• Full-time starters: SO Jonathan Krause and R-FR Chris Boyd
• Part-time starters: R-JR John Cole, R-SR Udom Umoh, FR Jacquese Kirk, R-SO Wesley Tate and FR Lafonte Thourogood (if he moved from quarterback, which hasn't happened)
• Playing rotation in big games: R-JR Akeem Dunham, R-FR Trent Pruitt and R-SO Brady Brown
• Special teams only: R-JR Jamison Sackey*
• Mop-up duty: R-FR Daniel Hagaman* and FR Steve Monk*

• First team All-SEC: R-SR Brandon Barden
• Part-time starters: R-JR Austin Monahan, FR Dillon van der Wal
• Playing rotation in big games: SO Fitz Lassing, R-SO Mason Johnston, FR Steven Scheu
• Role player in certain situations: R-SO Marc Panu*
• Candidates to redshirt: Scheu and van der Wal

• Lower All-SEC teams: R-SO Wesley Johnson and R-JR Ryan Seymour
• Full-time starters: R-SR Kyle Fischer, R-JR Jabo Burrow, R-SO Mylon Brown and R-JR Josh Jelesky
• Part-time starters: SO Logan Stewart and R-JR Caleb Welchans
• Playing rotation in big games: R-FR Andrew Bridges, FR Spencer Pulley, FR Jake Bernstein and FR James Lewis
• Role players in certain situations: R-FR Grant Ramsay, R-FR Chase White, FR Joe Townsend and FR Jose Valedon
• Candidates to redshirt: Pulley, Bernstein, Lewis, Townsend and Valedon

• Full-time starters: R-SR T.J. Greenstone, R-JR Colt Nichter, R-JR Rob Lohr
• Part-time starters: SO Jared Morse and R-FR Vince Taylor
• Playing rotation in big games: FR Barron Dixon
• Role player in certain situations: R-JR Taylor Loftley, FR Conor Hart
• Candidates to redshirt: Dixon (maybe) and Hart (definitely)

• Lower All-SEC teams: R-SR Tim Fugger
• Full-time starters: R-SO Walker May and R-FR Kyle Woestmann
• Part-time starter: R-JR Johnell Thomas
• Playing rotation in big games: FR Darien Bryant
• Role players in certain situations: R-JR Dexter Daniels, R-SO Thad McHaney, R-FR Thomas Ryan and FR Jimmy Stewart
• Candidates to redshirt: Bryant and Stewart

• All-American: R-SR Chris Marve
• Full-time starters: R-JR Archibald Barnes, SO Chase Garnham, R-JR Tristan Strong
• Part-time starters: R-JR DeAndre Jones
• Role players in certain situations: R-FR Andrew East, R-FR Blake Gowder, R-JR Al Owens
• Special teams only: R-FR Robby Barbieri*
• Mop-up duty: R-JR Bobby Jewell*, FR Kellen Williams*

• All-American: SR Casey Hayward
• Lower All-SEC teams: JR Trey Wilson
• Full-time starter: JR Eddie Foster
• Part-time starters: SO Andre Hal, SO Steven Clarke, FR Derek King
• Special teams only: SO Reggie Ford*
• Mop-up duty: SO Jarron Lewis*, SO Jarrett Wadler*, FR Scot Aiello*

• Lower All-SEC teams: SR Sean Richardson and SO Kenny Ladler
• Part-time starters: JR Eric Samuels and SO Andre Simmons
• Playing rotation in big games: SO Karl Butler, R-SO Javon Marshall, FR Andrew Williamson, FR Larry Franklin and FR Jahmel McIntosh
• Mop-up duty: SO Nick Aguirre* and JR Patrick Sutton*
• Candidates to redshirt: Franklin and McIntosh

• Lower All-SEC teams: R-JR Richard Kent* (punter)
• Starters: R-JR Ryan Fowler (kicker), SO Carey Spear (kicker), R-FR Andrew East (snapper)
• Substitutes: FR Connor Morrison* (snapper), R-SO Eric Frieman* (kicker), FR Taylor Hudson* (punter)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Franklin getting ready to "move some guys around"

Coach James Franklin said yesterday that he’s starting to set a depth chart internally, which I guess means he won’t publish it just yet but you can figure it out when you see who’s practicing with the first and second teams – or practicing at all.

He also said – and I love this stuff – he’s going to “make some moves and move some guys around.”

So who’s he going to move?

The who comes to everybody’s mind is Lafonte Thourogood, the four-star wide receiver and three star quarterback who reportedly chose Vanderbilt over Virginia Tech because we promised he’d get a shot at quarterback.

Well, Larry Smith looks like the starter, which we kind of expected, but another true freshman, Josh Grady, has emerged as at least the third-team quarterback, and right now he’s challenging junior Jordan Rodgers for reps with the second team. Meanwhile, Kris Kentera, also a true freshman, looks pretty sharp after summer workouts.

That means Thourogood, who’s battled a few apparently minor injuries, is currently the fifth-team quarterback. Do we really want one of the best athletes on the team to be under the bench?

But we kind of knew this could happen. Josh Grady is an exceptionally smart, polished kid who was ready for college life and ready to make a splash on the practice field. We’ve said a while back that Grady could easily be ahead of Thourogood on this year’s depth chart, and then drop behind him next year after Lafonte’s had a chance to develop.

But that would mean a redshirt year for Lafonte, right? At some point, one of those guys is going to change positions.

Franklin said a few weeks ago that he’d be thrilled if one of the freshman quarterbacks – meaning Grady or Thourogood but probably just meaning Thourogood – wanted to get on the field so badly that he came to Franklin and offered to play another position. That would mean Franklin could move him from quarterback without breaking his promise to give him a chance to play quarterback.

The big weaknesses on this team are wide receiver, offensive line and outside linebacker.

Offensive line is out. Yes, Thourogood’s big and athletic enough to play outside linebacker – or be an awesome, dominating wide receiver. At least, dominating by Vandy standards.

I think Lafonte wants to get on the field this year, and I’m hoping even if he wants to continue chasing his dream of being a college quarterback, he’ll offer to play receiver this season. It’s not like he’d be getting a bunch of reps, though he’d make a killer scout team quarterback.

Let’s take a look at some other candidates to move:

• Wesley Tate, R-SO, RB: Everybody thinks he could play receiver because he’s fast and his brother Golden is an NFL wideout, and he’s also an intriguing possibility at outside backer. But we’ve got two little veteran running backs who’ve struggled with injury (Norman and Stacy) and two brand new little running backs (Seymour and Hester). We’re gonna need big Wes in the backfield, at least before this season’s over.

• Jacquese Kirk, FR, WR: He’s also listed as a cornerback but he’s been working out with the receivers. Not much mention of him so far, those he’s posted on Facebook that he needs work on his route-running. He was primarily a shut-down corner in high school, and we’ve got three or four good-looking receivers who’ve committed to play next year. So if Kirk’s not ready to play receiver this year, he’ll probably get moved over to corner, where he’ll probably wind up anyway.

• Dillon van der Wal, FR, TE: He’s also listed as a defensive end but I think has been getting reps at tight end. But with Barden and Monahan chomping at the bit to have great seasons, Lassing and Johnston showing versatility and toughness, and true freshman Steven Scheu looking like a true tight end, coaches could move van der Wal elsewhere. At 6-7, 230 pounds, I don’t see him being ready to move to the defensive line and play this season. I still think he could end up being an offensive lineman. If coaches even think they want to take that direction, they’ll likely redshirt van der Wal. Or he could play tight end as a freshman, like Thomas Welch did, before concentrating on gaining massive amounts of weight. Oh, and he’ll need to make sure he finds a nice girlfriend, like Welch did, before he makes himself sloppy fat.

Other guys who could get a look at receiver include defensive backs Derek King and Jahmel McIntosh, but Vandy has only six scholarship corners right now and King could easily be getting significant playing time there any day now. And McIntosh is a wicked hitter who needs to be playing D.

Some guys who could get a look at offensive lineman: Not many candidates here, though redshirt-freshman Thomas Ryan could start practicing there if he doesn’t make the traveling team this year. If he doesn’t, with studs like Dawson and Azubike arriving next season, he’ll probably never play end for Vandy. He could eventually move to defensive tackle.

Guys who haven’t been getting much attention and may be ripe for a change are linebackers Blake Gowder and Al Owens and defensive end Dexter Daniels, but all of them changed positions already in the spring.

But I never would have guessed that Jelesky would have been moved to the offensive line this late in his career. I figured that Jelesky would just be put out to pasture and, to his credit, that's not something Franklin likes to do.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MV! voters agree with Franklin about Spencer Pulley

Well, our exciting poll — in which you vote for the Vandy players you think will get significant playing time — has now overlapped with preseason camp.

Many of you were probably wondering how you could cast a vote for Josh Jelesky in our recent offensive lineman poll. You couldn't, because we started the poll last week, well before Jelesky was moved over from defensive end.

No, we're not psychic. But many of you apparently are. How can seven people out there NOT vote for Wesley Johnson to get significant playing time? That doesn't even mean you have to say he's a starter, though it's a no-brainer that he will be. But many of you can see into the future and foretell that he's going to get injured or transfer to a service academy or go on the mission field or get beamed into space by aliens, because you didn't vote for him. Or maybe you want to boost the votes for another guy you believe in. That's your prerogative. Thanks for voting.

Anyway, here's who you MV! voters out there think has the best shot at significant playing time, and you start with the five returning starters:

1. Kyle Fischer, R-SR: 86 percent
1. Ryan Seymour, R-JR: 86 percent
3. Wesley Johnson, R-SO: 81 percent
4. Logan Stewart, SO: 73 percent
5. Jabo Burrow, R-JR: 71 percent

Here's your second team:

6. Caleb Welchans, R-JR: 65 percent
7. Mylon Brown, R-SO: 55 percent
8. Andrew Bridges, R-FR: 47 percent
9. Grant Ramsay, R-FR: 26 percent
10. Spencer Pulley, FR: 21 percent

And the third team:

11. Chase White, R-FR: 18 percent
11. Jake Bernstein, FR: 18 percent
13. James Lewis, FR: 13 percent
13. Jose Valedon, FR: 13 percent
15. Joe Townsend, FR: 7 percent

My hat's off to you guys for making Spencer Pulley your highest rated freshman. I'd have gone with Lewis or Bernstein, and you cast most of the votes for him before Coach Franklin said he looks the best so far of all the freshmen.

Speaking of Franklin's recent comments, he says Logan Stewart is NOT on track to be the starting center again. He says Wesley Johnson looks like the center, with Fischer and Seymour at tackles and probably Burrow at one of the guards. The other guard, he said, will likely be either Brown or Jelesky.

But that was before they put on full pads. We'll see how it pans out.

Now cast your votes for defensive tackles.

Larry Smith looks like Vandy's starter, Johnell Thomas jumps high — then Franklin puts everybody on ice

Been a busy day for the Commodores. This morning they practiced singing "Dynamite" with the band director (really) and then they hit the practice field, where Coach Franklin says Larry Smith is starting to separate himself from the rest of the quarterbacks.

Today he was talking about the talent at defensive end, mentioning returning starter R-SR Tim Fugger as well as R-SO Walker May and R-FR Kyle Woestmann, who are supposed to be battling for the other starting job. May, you may remember, started briefly last season before getting injured but still managed to make the Freshman All-SEC team.

Franklin was also high on R-JR Johnell Thomas, who's been flying under the radar for several years, probably because he's only 6 feet tall and looks like a shrunken-down defensive lineman rather than a speed-rushing end. But Franklin said he's got one of the highest vertical leaps on the team and is explosive.

That's one thing I like about Franklin. Bobby Johnson, who is of course a great guy, always focused on a player's ability to execute the playbook and work really hard. Franklin likes to talk about how much stronger a player's gotten or how he's athletic enough to get out of a jam if he makes a mistake.

Afterward, the guys climbed into giant tubs of ice, which Franklin said is something he learned to do in the NFL. Each tub held five or six football players. "All that was missing was daiquiris," he joked.

Another practice tonight.

Oh, another thing that impresses me about Franklin is his ability to stay loose and appear to be having fun while having high expectations, holding people accountable, and getting fired up. I can't remember at what point Vandy's other coaches acquired the look that they were being led to the gallows, but I don't ever remember any of our coaches exuding this much confidence or relating this well to players, including the ones we're trying to recruit.

Yes, I think we could win six games and go to a bowl. Or we could have another losing season. But I feel like we're building a foundation. I've been saying for a couple of years now that we should be much better in 2011 and then better than that in 2012.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wes Johnson looks like Vandy's center; Mylon Brown makes a move

After Wednesday’s practice, the first in full pads, Coach Franklin said Wesley Johnson would probably start at center – he was All-Freshman SEC as a left tackle last year. Here’s how he broke down the probable lineup:

Center – Johnson, R-SO: Franklin said sophomore Logan Stewart has to “grow and evolve” and likely won’t be the starting center after finishing last season there.

Tackles – Ryan Seymour, R-JR, and Kyle Fischer, R-SR.

Guards – Jabo Burrow, R-JR, and either R-SO Mylon Brown or R-JR Josh Jelesky. It would be remarkable if Jelesky starts an SEC game at offensive line less than a month after switching to offense for the first time in his four-year college career. Brown has transformed himself in the strength and conditioning program and reminds me of James Williams, the lineman who came out of nowhere two years ago and became Vandy’s most dominating offensive lineman after playing sparingly as a redshirt freshman. (Williams was injured in the second game against LSU and then flunked out of school the following year; hit those books, Mylon.)

Backups – Best bets are Stewart and R-JR Caleb Welchans, who’s been a utility backup and has started a few games during his career. After that, there’s a bunch of redshirt freshmen – Grant Ramsay, Chase White and Andrew Bridges – and true freshmen – Spencer Pulley, Jake Bernstein, James Lewis, Jose Valedon and Joe Townsend. The best bets might be Bridges, Pulley and Bernstein.

Other standouts on Wednesday were:
• R-JR DT Colt Nichter
• FR QB Josh Grady
• FR TE Steven Scheu
• R-SR DT T.J. Greenstone
• SO LB Chase Garnham
• JR CB Eddie Foster
• SO WR Jordan Matthews
• FR RB Jerron Seymour
• R-JR LB Tristan STrong

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two-star guys steal the show among Vandy freshmen

The Dores don full pads tomorrow, and Coach Franklin says that’s when “some guys will show up” and “some guys will disappear.” That didn’t stop him from assessing the progress of players so far.

Here are some players he highlighted at the end of Tuesday’s practice:

• R-JR TE Austin Monahan is healthy for the first time in three years, but Franklin said it’ll take preseason camp for him to build confidence in his repaired knee. Franklin’s fully aware that Monahan started ahead of Barden back in the day and he seems excited about using both of them in formations.

• R-FR WR Chris Boyd has done “some nice things” and is a candidate to join sophomores Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause in the starting lineup, but Franklin lists the receivers, particularly depth, as a “position of concern of mine” and said the lack of playmakers there could “limit what we’d like to do offensively.” “We need some guys to step up,” he said.

• R-JR Josh Jelesky is adjusting well to his move to the offensive line from defensive tackle. Franklin said he wasn’t sure how much Jelesky would help the offensive line but that he is “fighting for a starting job right now.” I’d be really surprised if Jelesky goes from a third-string defensive tackle to a starting offensive linemen in the SEC in less than a month, but we’ll see.

• FR DT Barron Dixon is performing well so far, and likely helped coaches decide to move Jelesky to offensive line.

• R-FR DT Vince Taylor “has matured significantly since spring.” Franklin said he’s still learning but he’s a “very talented guy” who “looks like he’s 255 but he’s 295 and carries it well.”

• FR DE/LB Darien Bryant has “intrigued” Franklin and his staff. He’s “a long, angular, athletic kid who can really run.” Primarily evaluated as a tight end by recruiting services, Bryant looks stouter than his listed 6-foot-4, 220 pounds.

• FR S Andrew Williamson has emerged as the most impressive and game-ready of the four or five true freshmen defensive backs. He was a two-star recruit who’s been an afterthought so far in any discussions about freshman contributors, but Franklin said he’s “further ahead” than three-star safeties Larry Franklin and Jahmel McIntosh and hotshot cornerback Derek King, the Brentwood product who had an offer from Auburn and who Franklin says “doesn’t look like a freshman.”

• Speaking of freshmen coming from nowhere, Spencer Pulley is the most impressive of the true freshmen offensive linemen so far despite being overshadowed by James Lewis, Jake Bernstein and even Jose Valedon. Franklin said he’s like to redshirt Pulley if he could but that he might be pressed into duty sometime during the season, which is what happened to Logan Stewart last year. Pulley got two stars from Scout and ESPN, while Lewis and Bernstein were consensus three star guys.

• FR OL Jake Bernstein is the other offensive lineman who has the best chance of seeing action as a true freshman, Franklin said. Meanwhile, James Lewis, who looks massive, is hobbled on the sideline with an injured foot.

But get ready for new names and faces after the hitting starts tomorrow.

Vanderbilt converts another end to offensive line

Coach James Franklin said after yesterday’s practice that redshirt junior defensive tackle Josh Jelesky is moving to the offensive line.

When a reporter asked if this was a further sign of lack of depth on the O-line, Franklin replied that he was making the move to “give him an opportunity to lengthen his career.” Don’t read that to mean Jelesky has a shot at the NFL, but that Jelesky is being given a shot to return to Vandy next year for a fifth year.

Franklin explained that Jelesky was deep in the rotation at defensive line (behind Greenstone, Lohr, Nichter, Morse, Taylor and probably even freshman Barron Dixon) but may have a chance to eventually start on the offensive line. He’s listed at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds.

Jelesky came to Nashville as a defensive end. As is evident in our current recruiting class, it’s a lot easier for Vandy to recruit defensive ends than other positions, which is why so many of our starting offensive linemen – Ryan Seymour and Jabo Burrow this year and guys like Reilly Lauer in years past — start their college careers as defensive ends.

This is not the same old Vandy, however. For one thing, Franklin is now recruiting defensive ends like Josh Dawson and Caleb Azubike who have SEC athleticism and can quickly compete for a starting job on defense. (Dawson, by the way, is slated to join LB Jacob Sealand as an early enrollee in January.)

Another thing that’s new is that Franklin identifies kids who aren’t going to play and gives them a chance at another position. In the spring, with Dexter Daniels lost in the log jam of redshirt junior linebackers, Franklin moved Daniels to defensive end. Meanwhile, he moved redshirt junior Al Owens from safety, where he clearly was never going to play, to outside linebacker.

This sends two signals: (1) We believe in you and like having you on campus and want to give you an opportunity to play, but (2) don’t be surprised if we don’t invite you back to use your fifth year of eligibility.

So moves like this are either a new beginning or the beginning of the end. This is the latest I can remember a Commodore moving from defensive end to offensive line. Seymour made the switch during his first year on the team, while Burrow switched during his second year. Jelesky is starting his fourth year on campus.

Jelesky’s move may pave the way for true freshman Joe Townsend to move to defensive line. That’s just a hunch. Vandy’s having trouble as always recruiting true SEC defensive tackles and will be losing T.J. Greenstone next year and Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter the following year. Townsend appears to be in the mold of those guys – a tough, overachieving kid with a pretty good motor.

As the Commodores prepare for their first day of practice in full pads, let’s take a look at some players who stood out yesterday:

• Wide receiver: SO Jordan Matthews made two spectacular catches and looks like the star receiver we’ve long been lacking.

• Quarterbacks: R-SR Larry Smith and R-JR Jordan Rodgers appear to be settling into a nice quarterback competition. At the least, Rodgers is going to sharpen Smith.

• Offensive linemen: Returning starters R-SR Kyle Fischer, R-JR Ryan Seymour and R-SO Wesley Johnson continue to show progress. James Franklin says Seymour is bigger, faster and stronger, as evidenced by the fact that the preseason factbook is pushing him as an all-star candidate. R-SO Mylon Brown, one of Vandy’s biggest linemen at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, is stronger and looks more athletic and ready to compete for playing time.

• Linebackers: Franklin says R-JR Archibald Barnes has improved physically and will definitely challenge for a starting position, while adding that outside linebacker is still remains a concern for the team. Barnes is battling R-JR Tristan Strong and SO Chase Garnham. Oh, somebody named Chris Marve appears to have emerged as a potential starter amidst this new competitive environment.

• Defensive backs: SO CB Andre Hal, who’s overshadowed by senior Casey Hayward and juniors Trey Wilson and Eddie Foster, made an interception in practice. He could see some starting time before the season’s over. Also, R-SO S Javon Marshall is proving himself to be a big hitter.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Which Vandy players got a jump on second day of camp

Here are some guys singled out for praise after yesterday’s practice, the second of preseason camp:

• No surprise: Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Matthews, senior cornerback Casey Hayward, junior running back Zac Stacy, redshirt junior offensive tackle Ryan Seymour, redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Wesley Johnson.

• Making a strong case to start: Redshirt senior quarterback Larry Smith, junior cornerback Eddie Foster, redshirt senior defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone, redshirt junior defensive tackle Rob Lohr, redshirt senior offensive guard Kyle Fischer.

• Making a case for playing time: Redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Rodgers, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Mylon Brown, redshirt sophomore safety Javon Marshall.

• Impressive newcomers: True freshman running backs Jerron Seymour and Mitchell Hester.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

True freshmen could play a role for Vandy at tight end

Big surprise that voters in the MV! Significant Playing Time Poll think that Brandon Barden has the best change of getting significant playing time at tight end (or fullback or H-back) this season. I guess a bigger surprise is that somebody out there thinks Barden WON'T get significant playing time this season. We'd like to hear from that person to get your reasoning. Are you clairvoyant and foresee him getting injured in preseason camp or something?

Anyway, we like to cut the voting off after 50 votes but we let the tight end poll ride a while and only got 42 votes, which means that folks aren't as excited about tight ends, fullbacks and H-backs as they are about, say, quarterbacks and running backs, so we went ahead and stopped voting. Can't wait to see how excited you are about offensive linemen, which is our new poll.

Here's how the voting shakes out:
1. Brandon Barden, R-SR: 97 percent
2. Austin Monahan, R-JR: 71 percent
3. Mason Johnston, R-SO: 35 percent
4. Dillon van der Wal, FR: 33 percent
5. Fitz Lassing, SO: 28 percent
6. (tie) Marc Panu, R-SO: 9 percent
6. (tie) Steven Scheu, R-SO: 9 percent

Why did we lump fullbacks and H-backs with tight ends? Well, because guys like Barden, Johnston and Lassing will be playing both this season, and we're not really sure how James Franklin plans to use these guys in the offense. You'll definitely see several of them on the field at the same time this season.

Barden has a chance to make All-SEC and/or be drafted as early as the second or third round.

Monahan has always been an impressive talent who's started ahead of Barden when he's been healthy and apparently has been given a sixth year of eligibility which means this is his junior year. If he's completely healed and can avoid injury, then he could be a huge weapon for us.

Johnston has always been more of a blocker than a receiver but is pretty athletic and could line up in the backfield.

Van der Wal, who's a nice prospect on both sides of the ball, could see significant time as a pass-catching target if Monahan struggles to return to SEC play or if big receiving targets like Chris Boyd and Brady Brown don't crack the lineup. He's got a huge upside as a prospect at defensive end or offensive line and would benefit from a redshirt if coaches think his future is at one of these positions.

Lassing is a brilliant local kid that coaches like to refer to as a warrior. He's not a star, but he could be a valuable role player as a blocker either on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. He could crack the starting lineup up if Franklin opens the game with a fullback.

Panu, a 245-pound walk-on who was listed as a defensive end last season and played special teams, is a wild card at fullback. He's bigger than Lassing but lacks his ball skills.

Scheu looks like a clone of Barden and could surprise some people this season, especially if Monahan or Johnston struggle to make the tough catches. He's not as big a target as van der Wal, but has more experience catching ball.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 1: Larry Smith looks like the starting QB, Josh Grady doesn't look like a true freshman

Lots of good coverage of Vandy’s first day of practice over at the official VU site.

After practice, Coach James Franklin was asked about the quarterbacks and said:

• Redshirt senior Larry Smith “did some good things.”
• Redshirt junior Jordan Rodgers “made some mistakes I didn’t think he’d make.”
• True freshman Josh Grady was the “third best quarterback,” “just doesn’t seem to get rattled,” and “seems like he’s been here at least a year.”
• Fellow frosh Lafonte Thourogood made some mistakes and there were “some simple reads he missed.”
• Kris Kentera, the third true freshman QB, also made some rookie mistakes.

In addition to Grady, Franklin also singled out running back Jerron Seymour as a true freshman who stood out to him.

As for offensive linemen, he said he’s impressed with the progress made in the strength and conditioning program by redshirt junior Ryan Seymour, redshirt sophomore Wesley Johnson and redshirt freshman Andrew Bridges.

I noticed freshman tackle James Lewis, probably our top O-line prospect, was wearing a red jersey and standing on the sideline.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

James Franklin gets some more fast little guys

Vandy just got three more verbal commitments:

• Brandon Banks, a 5-11, 170-pound athlete from Maryland who can run a 4.3 40 and has offers from Cincinnati, UConn, Maryland, Michigan State and Pittsburgh. He’s a consensus 3-star recruit. He’s listed as a cornerback or athlete by most services but recruiting coordinator/freshman quarterback Josh Grady says he’ll play wide receiver. If Banks is a receiver, he’d rate slightly behind verbal commit Jaydrick Declouet and well ahead of Corey Batey in this year’s class and compared to the ratings of past recruits he’s comparable to sophomore receiver Jonathan Krause and sophomore cornerback Andre Hal.

• Jaborian McKenzie, a 5-9, 180-pound running back from Mississippi who’s run a sub-4.4 40 and switched to Vandy after making a verbal commitment to Southern Miss. Also has offers from Indiana, Kansas State and Memphis. Got 3 stars from Scout and Rivals and 2 from ESPN. Compared to past running back recruits, he’s on par with Warren Norman (who’s proving to be underrated) and Micah Powell (who’s proving to be overrated), ahead of Wesley Tate, and behind Zac Stacy and the two true freshmen, Mitchell Hester and Jerron Seymour. He could also play defensive back, where his rating stacks up to those of current junior cornerbacks Trey Wilson and Eddie Foster and is well ahead of fellow verbal commitment Paris Head.

• Colby Cooke, a 6-3 punter/kicker from Virginia who’s listed as having no other offers, but it’s trickier getting rated and recruited as a kicker because so few scholarships are offered. Clearly he’ll be the heir apparent to Richard Kent, who’s a redshirt junior walk-on.

OK, we’re getting lots of fast little guys.

Here are the receivers, running backs and cornerbacks, counting the freshman class and the current verbal commitments, that Franklin has recruited:
• Jerron Seymour, 5-7, 190, RB, 4.3 40
• Brian Kimbrow, 5-9, 165, RB, 4.2 40
• Jaborian McKenzie, 5-9, 180, RB, 4.4 40
• Mitchell Hester, 5-9, 184, RB, 4.3 40
• Paris Head, 5-10, 170, CB, 4.5 40
• Jaydrick Declouet, 5-10, 175, WR, 4.4 40
• Brandon Banks, 5-11, 170, CB/WR, 4.3 40
• Corey Batey, 5-11, 180, WR, 4.4 40
• Derek King, 5-11, 195, CB, 4.4 40
• Jacquese Kirk, 6-0, 160, CB/WR, 4.4 40

Now let’s get some big linemen on both sides of the ball!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Umoh and Cole booted from Vandy's starting receiving corps... according to the MV! playing-time poll

A lot of people think that our starting receivers this year, when we open the game with a 3-wideout set, will all hail from last year's signing class — sophomores Jonathan Krause and Jordan Matthews and redshirt freshman Chris Boyd.

And you, the MV! audience, agree. We're piecing together playing rotations position by position, and you liked Matthews best (86 percent of voters), followed closely by Krause (86 percent) and then Boyd (68 percent).

Where does that leave returning starters John Cole and Udom Umoh? Cole's your fourth receiver at 41 percent. The redshirt junior has started for most of two seasons since getting injured as a true freshmen in the opener against Miami-Ohio and redshirting.

Umoh is sixth receiver at 25 percent of the vote. The new media guide/fact book is eager to point out that Umoh, a redshirt senior, is a great blocker. That's like saying that a member of the homecoming court makes her own clothes. It's nice, but it's not going to get you the crown, or even a starting job.

Ahead of Umoh is true freshman Jacquese Kirk, who reports to camp on Wednesday, I think. Kirk weighs 160 pounds but is the kind of athlete who could bring some excitement to the Vandy offense, and can allegedly separate from defensive backs, something Cole and Umoh have struggled to do in their VU careers.

After Umoh is true frosh Lafonte Thourogood, who'll start out as a quarterback but is considered a fine wide receiver prospect and could see some time there. Not a sure thing, but a possibility. He got votes from 19 percent of you.

Then there's redshirt junior Akeem Dunham and redshirt frosh Trent Pruitt, both of whom tied with 15 percent apiece.

Bringing up the rear is redshirt sophomore Brady Brown, one of Vandy's highest rated receiving recruits in recent memory, but he's starting his third year on campus and hasn't caught a pass.

Here's a recap:

1. Jordan Matthews, SO: 88 percent
2. Jonathan Krause, SO: 86 percent
3. Chris Boyd, R-FR: 68 percent
4. John Cole, R-JR: 41 percent
5. Jacquese Kirk, FR: 33 percent
6. Udom Umoh, R-SR: 25 percent
7. Lafonte Thourogood, FR: 19 percent
8. Akeem Dunham, R-JR: 15 percent
8. Trent Pruitt, R-FR: 15 percent
10. Brady Brown, R-SO: 3 percent

Now it's time to vote for tight ends.