Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vanderbilt spring football preview: A pair of quarterbacks become receivers, Mylon and Brady say goodbye — and everything's open to the public

Here are some headlines as Vandy enters spring practice tomorrow. You won’t find these in the Tennessean, because the only reporter apparently allowed to think about the Commodores is in New Mexico right now covering our SEC championship basketball team.

You may remember that we had a whopping five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster last season, including three true freshmen – Lafonte Thourogood, Josh Grady and Kris Kentera. At the end of the season, during Liberty Bowl practice, coach James Franklin announced that Thourogood was moving to running back. Yesterday, he announced that Grady’s moving to slot receiver and Kentera’s moving to H-back/tight end. Recent signee Patton Robinette will likely redshirt while Jordan Rodgers and Austyn Carta-Samuels duke it out for the starting QB job, which means Grady would be the emergency No. 3 QB and will probably see some wildcat duty too. Franklin said Thourogood’s a big athlete who’s still looking for the right position, and that both Grady and Kentera needed to get on the field right away and would be competing for starting positions.

Zac Stacy was a workhorse last season, and he could be doing it again in his senior season. That’s because both Warren Norman and Jerron Seymour are expected to miss most or all of spring practice with injuries. Norman, the 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year, sat out last season with injury and redshirted, while Seymour played injured and spelled Stacy. The other running backs on the spring depth chart are Thourogood, who may or may not be a running back, and somebody named Hasan Clayton, a walk-on listed on the roster as a cornerback. Of course, true freshman Brian Kimbrow, the highest Vandy recruit ever, will arrive in the summer but at last glance weighed 165 pounds and will not be an every down back.

Sure, six fine-looking recruits will report for spring practice, but pickings are slim in the meantime. Rising junior Mylon Brown, a 300-pounder who started part-time last season, has been dismissed from the team. To make matters worse, stalwart guard Ryan Seymour and part-time starter Chase White will also miss spring while rehabbing injuries. Franklin hopes Wesley Johnson can play at his natural position, left tackle, this season, but that depends on whether Spencer Pulley can become the new center. (Starting center Logan Stewart, you may remember, was dismissed from the team at the end of last season.) Franklin said Pulley has never played center, but that he’s a solid kid and good leader and the kind of player and person, at least on paper, that you’d like to have at center. We’ll see. We’re betting this experiment is a success.

Receiver Brady Brown, to our knowledge the highest rated receiver that Vandy’s ever recruited (yes, even higher than Earl), has left the team for personal reasons, Franklin said. We’re guessing that one of those “personal reasons” might be that he was never going to see the field. From the moment he set foot on campus, Franklin was saying he didn’t want possession receivers, and used Brown as an example of the kind of receiver he didn’t want. Ouch.

Meanwhile, some other players who’ve received limited or no playing time early in their careers – and who we’ve speculated might transfer elsewhere if they want to see some playing time – are still on the roster. That includes offensive lineman Grant Ramsay, slot receiver Trent Pruitt, and defensive end Thomas Ryan.

We won’t be seeing Mason Johnston on the field for the Commodores for a long time, if ever. The rising redshirt junior, who we’ve speculated is finished playing because of serious and persistent leg injuries, is listed on the roster as a non-participant and medical redshirt. We’re guessing he’s done, but the terminology leaves hope that he might have a six-year career like fellow tight end Austin Monahan is having.

By my count, Vandy is two scholarships under the limit, even if Johnston does remain on scholarship. Take him away, and the Commodores have room for those three guys transferring from Maryland – all-star quarterback Danny O’Brien, offensive tackle Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson. Just saying. We think O’Brien would immediately step into the starting job, and Garcia would start in 2013 when he became eligible to play and would give our bumper crop of linemen more time to develop. And five of our linebackers in 2013 will be starting their second year as either sophomores or redshirt freshmen, so we could use some experience there too. We don’t think all those guys will end up as Commodores, but O’Brien’s still a strong possibility. Franklin can’t talk about prospects, but he repeatedly said that he was always trying to improve the talent level. In fact, he used that tone of voice he uses when he’s speaking in code. Like when he said, “I have great respect for COACH RICHT,” meaning that he hates Todd Grantham’s guts, or “I was really impressed with the enthusiasm and support from the fans at TENNESSEE,” meaning that our fans suck.

Grant Ramsay’s our starting left guard? Walk-on John Townsley has moved from quarterback to wide receiver and is starting ahead of Jordan Matthews? Walk-on Hasan Clayton is listed ahead of superstar recruit Lafonte Thourogood at tailback. WTF? Actually, Franklin ranks players on the spring depth chart according to seniority. You know, so players will get the message that every position is truly up for grabs.

As expected, the following players have graduated and left school with one year of eligibility remaining: Receivers John Cole and Akeem Dunham, defensive end Dexter Daniels, defensive tackle Taylor Loftley, linebackers DeAndre Jones and Al Owens, running back Micah Powell, offensive lineman Caleb Welchans and walk-on receiver Jamison Sackey.

The following players are listed as having already graduated but are returning for a final year of eligibility: DT Cole Nichter, QB Jordan Rodgers and LB Tristan Strong. The following players are returning for a fifth year and will give graduation the old college try: LB Archibald Barnes, OG Josh Jelesky, DT Rob Lohr, TE Austin Monahan and DE Johnell Thomas. Austin Monahan hasn't graduated yet? We figured he'd be a doctor by now.

These players are listed as having already graduated, though they haven't completed their third year of college yet: RB Zac Stacy, CB Trey Wilson and S Eric Samuels.

Franklin announced that, “upon further notice,” all Vandy practices will be open to the public, at least until reporters start writing about the new schemes and trick plays he’s installing. Franklin’s doing a masterful job so far of changing the story of Vandy football, and he’s also doing a masterful job of dictating this story to the media. Here’s Vandy’s practice schedule:
• Opening practice at 4:15 on Friday.
• Saturday practices at 10 a.m. through April 17.
• Tuesday practices at 4:15 through April 10.
• Thursday practices at 4:15 through April 12.
• Black & Gold Spring Game at 6 p.m. on April 14.

Go Dores! Beat Harvard!


Anonymous said...

Where are you Dimon??!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

I second that

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear MV,

Please come back.



Anonymous said...

Please return!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Is Dimon alive? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

A bowl game every 30 years. A blog post every 60 days.

Damn you Dimon! You smug bastard. I drop by every day to no avail. I keep thinking one day I'll stop checking in. But then I realize that (a) I'll keep checking in, regardless, and (b) you don't care if I check in or not.

Either way, I just wish you would post more stories. If you need some inspiration, here are a few ideas:

1. Human and Organizational Development. What is it and why does it cost $200,000?

2. Josie Earnest, assistant coach.


4. Oh, and we've had a spring game, commitments, stadium improvement announcements, the nfl draft (no sarcasm insinuated... psyche)

you're a tease Dimon. if you're summering in Florida then just please let us know.

-Drunk Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Drunk anonymous now sober anonymous. Still miss you MV.

Jace Puckett said...

Stop worrying guys. Dimon is just having a little spring hibernation, this is a football blog after all. I guarantee he isn't missing anything either. He will come back soon enough, just as knowledgeable as ever.

Anonymous said...

Guy's who cares if he shows up! If you read his posts over the last two years and have a brain you'll notice most of his comments/ predictions on players and the team have been inaccurate at best. My guess is he has gone to football school to learn something about what he is writing about.

Anonymous said...

Disagree with last anonymous. MV is radical.

2012 Battleground said...

A lot of predictions about sports are inaccurate. If not most!

It doesn't mean we don't enjoy reading his stuff. Anybody who takes the time to blog about Vandebilt athletics is ok with me; right or wrong.

I am looking forward to Dimon's return. We have a big season ahead of us.

Unknown said...

nice written

Anonymous said...

As much as it saddens me, I think Moral Victory is dead to me. It's just not worth the effort of continuing to check the blog, only to be disappointed.

Hope all is well Dimon. Best of luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

I still believe in you MV.

Anonymous said...

Isn't worth the effort? Quite a strain, clicking a link in your favorites.

I'll keep checking back. If we can updates, I'll be happy. If not, I'll lose 15 seconds out of my day.

Unknown said...

A moral victory occurs when a person, team, army or other group loses a confrontation, and yet achieves some other moral gain. This gain might be unrelated to the confrontation in question, and the gain is often considerably less than what would have been accomplished if an actual victory had been achieved.

Greg M said...

3 days from kick-off and still no posts? we must have lost him. so sad.

Greg M said...

I guess the culture has finally changed for good. There are no more Moral Victories for Vanderbilt Football!!!