As the Commodores made their historic run to the College World Series in 2011 behind a mostly-veteran team, a number of wide-eyed and inexperienced understudies soaked up most every unforgettable moment from Vanderbilt's bench.
Their time to shine would not be in 2011, but it would be here soon enough.
The 2011 team had an SEC-record 12 players drafted, and only pitcher Will Clinard returned. The incomparable amount of turnover left gaping holes in Vanderbilt's starting lineup and pitching staff.
To help fill in those vacated spots, Vanderbilt's coaching staff turned to the team's mostly nameless bench from a year ago.
Near the end of that bench was then-freshman catcher Spencer Navin. He was third on the depth chart behind senior Curt Casali and junior Drew Fann. He played in just seven games in 2011, making two starts.
To a casual Commodore fan, Navin was a virtually unknown player on last year's roster. And it was for legitimate reasons.
On defense, Navin typically was only seen as the masked catcher warming up pitchers in the bullpen. Offensively, of the 19 players to receive an at bat last year, Navin was the only one not to record a hit, going 0-for-7 on the year.
"It was definitely tough having to watch," Navin said. "You just had to stay in every game and just accept that role of waiting your turn."
Navin patiently waited his turn, and once he received it, he took full advantage. The sophomore backstop received the starting nod out of fall practice and has maintained a vise grip on the spot throughout the season by being among the team leader's in hitting.
The Des Moines, Iowa, native is currently second on the team with a .318 average and his .462 slugging percentage and .445 on-base percentage are tops on the squad among regular starters.
Navin has also improved behind the plate where he has thrown out 15 runners, which is tied for the second most in the SEC.
His emergence as a solid backstop and a consistent force in the middle of the lineup came as a surprise to most, but not to Navin.
"I always kind of knew I could hit coming in," said Navin, who never entertained the thought of changing positions. "It is always good when you can get off to a good start and keep it going. I wouldn't say it was a surprise. I knew I could do what I've been doing when I came in."
Although Navin would much rather have been on the field last season, he credits this year's success, in part, to last last season's time spent learning behind All-SEC catcher Curt Casali.
"I learned a lot from him, his everyday movements, what he does, how he interacts with the pitchers, everything," Navin said. "It was just a good learning experience. Even though I didn't get a lot of playing time, I learned a lot."
Much of the learning came on the defensive end with not only improved fundamentals, but also managing a pitching staff, something catchers rarely have to do or understand how to do at the high school level.
"What I improved the most was just the interactions with my pitching staff," Navin recalled. "Last year, I didn't really get it because I was a freshman. But now I know when to talk to the pitchers, how to talk to them, how to help them out and I think that helps them out a lot."
His feel for his pitchers has also been enhanced by being a consistent presence in the everyday lineup. "As the season goes on, I learn so much more about them," Navin said. "Last year, I was just kind of there."
This time a year ago, Navin was one of the wide-eyed freshmen soaking up everything from the magical season. What he learned from his time in the background was invaluable, and now that he's finally getting the opportunity to show what he can do, he's making sure not to disappoint.