Sunday, August 21, 2011

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.

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