Your guide to the Commodores during preseason camp.
Poster ranked No. 2 by Bleacher Report
AUG 23 9:00 AM
Each year people clamor to get their hands on Vanderbilt's football schedule poster. The posters end up on bedroom walls of Commodore fans everywhere as anticipation builds for the season.
And lately, the posters being pinned on people's walls have been recognized as being some of the best in the nation, according to Bleacher Report.
The website annually ranks the top football schedule posters, and Vanderbilt has finished very high in the rankings in recent years. Just two years ago, Vanderbilt's 2010 poster was chosen as "Best in the Nation."
This year's version, that was released in the spring, was judged as the No. 2 poster for 2012. The poster was designed by Vanderbilt's marketing department and creative services team.
AUG 22 6:05 PM
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Vanderbilt football head coach James Franklin has named six additional captains for the 2012 season, bringing the total number of captains to eight.
Archibald Barnes (RS Sr., LB), Zac Stacy (Sr., RB), Johnell Thomas (RS Sr., DE), Javon Marshall (RS Jr., S), Wesley Johnson (RS Jr., OT) and Carey Spear (Jr., PK) will join Jordan Rodgers (RS Sr., QB) and Walker May (RS Jr., DE), who were named in the spring.
Franklin also released the depth chart for the South Carolina game. To read that and more about Vanderbilt's captains, click here.
Dores close preseason camp in stadium
AUG 22 8:40 AM
The Commodores closed preseason camp Tuesday with their third workout in renovated Vanderbilt Stadium.
James Franklin's squad is expected to be off the field Wednesday, then turn its full attention to the season opener on Thursday, Aug. 30, when No. 9 South Carolina visits Nashville for one of the biggest games during the first week of college football.
Among the final details being taken care of inside Vanderbilt Stadium is the painting of the goal posts. Also, be sure to watch the video and look at the photo below to see the awning that has been placed on top of the hillside seating area.
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Best of 2012 preseason camp
AUG 21 12:14 PM
With only nine days until the season opener against ninth-ranked South Carolina in Nashville, the Commodores shift their focus to game-planning for their highly-anticipated matchup against the Gamecocks.
To put a wrap on the preseason, VUcommodores.com polled media members that cover the Commodores regularly to get their selections on standout performances during camp. The group surveyed included Jeff Lockridge (The Tennessean), Jesse Johnson (VandySports.com) and Barton Simmons (Vandy247.com).
The remarkable Marc Panu story continues to grow, with the fourth-year Vanderbilt fullback and Head Coach James Franklin appearing Friday morning with the hosts of FOX News' "Fox and Friends" show.
Panu's story of receiving a full-ride scholarship after participating as a walk-on with the Commodores for the last three years has become an online sensation in the last week. More than 330,000 people have viewed a 90-second YouTube video that captured Franklin's announcement of Panu's scholarship.
James Franklin didn't change his focus during a pair of fast-paced practices Wednesday on campus, working intently to see more improvement from his own Commodore squad.
After a two-hour morning workout signaled the midway mark of preseason camp, Franklin said the squad will continue to concentrate on its own upgrades - and wait until next week to turn its full attention to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Commodores' season opening opponent on Thursday, Aug. 30.
Franklin was pleased with the Commodores' intensity and effort on Wednesday, but still wanted more commitment to developing overall fortitude.
Vanderbilt held its first of two practices of the day earlier this morning. Wednesday is the team's second of three two-a-days taking place this week with the next one being held Friday. Wednesday's morning practice was in pads, while the afternoon session will be in shells.
AUG 15 8:19 AM
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GoPro images on Instagram. Follow VUCommodores on Instagram for photos during camp.
Tuesday's practice report
AUG 14 7:59 PM
The Commodores are holding two-a-days every other day this week, which means Tuesday was a single practice day for the team, and it came under extremely favorable weather conditions.
Unlike the first week of practice when temperatures were in the 90s, Tuesday's conditions mirrored those of Monday evening with temperatures in the upper 70s. The Commodores practiced approximately two hours with an officiating crew on hand to help emulate what players will see on gameday.
James Franklin was happy with pieces of Tuesday's practice, but overall would have liked to have seen more consistency. The area he pinpointed after practice came on offensive substitutions.
"It was a little sloppy in my opinion," Franklin said. "The other thing we have to do, and this is on me, we've got to run some more drills with the offense on the sideline and having to run in for substitutions because we did that today with the music going and crowd noise and we didn't handle that as well. We are going to have to do more work on that."
Vanderbilt will return to the practice field for two practices on Wednesday.
NASHVILLE - Getting back to work after an impressive weekend scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium, the Commodores made the most of a two-hour afternoon workout after having to halt a morning practice prematurely due to sudden thunderstorms near the campus.
Head Coach James Franklin put the Commodores through a quick-paced afternoon session after practicing just 45 minutes in full pads Monday morning before the storms arrived. Though the sessions didn't qualify as traditional two-a-day workouts, the coach said his squad got a lot out of the practices that came in mild temperatures.
"It wasn't a true two-a-day because we got rained out (in the morning), but we got some good work done, which is most important," Franklin said. "We installed some stuff we hadn't done earlier."
The Commodores returned to the practice field Monday and participated in their second two-a-day session of preseason camp. View 30 photos from the morning practice, which was interrupted by severe weather in the area. GALLERY
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Players only: 2012 team poll
AUG 13 12:20 PM
Let's face it, there is a lot of mostly useless information out there that people consume each day. So why not add a little more random information into your back pocket in the form of Vanderbilt's football team?
VUCommodores.com recently conducted an unscientific poll of 20 members of the team to determine answers to such pressing questions as: Who on the team is most likely to become President of the United States? And, who would win an eating competition?
Insignificant in the grand scheme of things, yes, but entertaining, absolutely. Who knows the next time this information might come in handy when you are watching a Vanderbilt game with a friend.
You've seen the still photos of Vanderbilt's players in the game program, on television, in the fact book and on VUCommodores.com, among other places, but when are the photos taken?
Each year during preseason camp, Vanderbilt holds a photo day - typically on a Sunday - where every member of the team has their photo taken for the 2012 season. The photos are disseminated across many platforms and shared with local and national media members throughout the country.
On Sunday, the photos ranged from individual headshots, to full-body portraits, position group photos and a team photo. In addition to still images, the players and coaches filmed elements for the new video board. The elements included video headshots and crowd prompts.
VUCommodores.com was there to take you behind the scenes to see how it all unfolded.
Vanderbilt's football team held its annual photo day on Sunday. Players and staff members had their photo and video head shots taken for the game program, video board and website. Additionally, players and coaches posed for individual portraits and had position group and team photos taken.
Here are a few photos captured throughout the day with Instagram. Remember to follow VUCommodores on Instagram for the latest photos throughout camp.
Dores impressed by stadium renovations
AUG 12 9:15 AM
As Vanderbilt's players entered the stadium Saturday evening, you could see their individual jaws drop at the first sight of the transformation that had taken place inside Vanderbilt Stadium.
"I looked up and I kind of got teary-eyed," running back Zac Stacy said. "It is just a reflection of Coach Franklin and his staff and what they have done. Seeing all this is just more motivation for us to get ready for Aug. 30."
After Vanderbilt's Black and Gold Spring Game on April 14, the stadium began going through a large renovation that included new artificial turf, the creation of hillside seating, new stadium lights and a new video board in the north end zone.
There are still steps that must be taken to complete the renovation, but even with work to be done, the inside of Vanderbilt Stadium looked significantly different on Saturday than it has in year's past. And it was all for good reasons.
"I hadn't seen the inside of the stadium yet and when I came through the tunnel, I didn't recognize it," defensive end Walker May said. The hill threw me off as I walked through the tunnel, and as I got out here and looked at the (video board) I said, 'my gosh, that is unbelievable.' "
The video board measures 50 feet high and 72 feet wide, thus dwarfing the board that was previously there. On Friday, the board was fired up for the first time and on Saturday it remained on throughout Vanderbilt's scrimmage.
Even though all that was displayed on the video board Saturday was Vanderbilt's Star V logo surrounded by animating tiles that would change between black and gold, the brief look left the players excited and eager to see what would be displayed next.
"The first thing I noticed was the big video board," running back Warren Norman. "It looks awesome and I can't wait to really see it in action."
Getting Vanderbilt Stadium to where it is did not come without a lot of hard work and generosity, something that is not lost on the members of the team.
"I had a bunch of kids that came up to me and went out of their way to say, 'Coach, thank you and thanks to the administration, it looks unbelievable.' I know how much they appreciate it, and the fact that a few of them went out of their way to actually verbalize it says a lot," Franklin said.
"The strides that Coach Franklin has gone through to give us this stuff ... I can't thank enough the people that donated and Vice Chancellor David Williams for his support," reflected May.
On Aug. 30, fans will get their first look at Vanderbilt Stadium since the renovation began four month ago, and they too may have their jaws agape as they see the inside of the stadium for the first time.
Dores scrimmage in stadium
AUG 11 11:20 PM
Vanderbilt's players got their first look and feel of the newly-renovated Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday evening as the Commodores staged a 105-play scrimmage under the new lights.
Vanderbilt's offense, and running backs in particular, found success throughout the scrimmage by scoring a total eight touchdowns.
After a slow start that saw the first four drives of the night produce only one first down, the VU running game took over. Starting at their own 25-yard line, the first team offense marched 75 yards in nine plays to score the first touchdown of the night. Zac Stacy carried the ball four straight plays to start the drive, gaining 34 yards to help set up the passing game. Jordan Rodgers took over from there, completing two passes to Warren Norman for 19 yards before Norman ran it in from 26 yards out.
NASHVILLE - James Franklin likes his Commodores' energy and attitude as they await their first visit to refurbished Vanderbilt Stadium.
"I liked how we practiced and I see us getting better on both sides of the ball," Franklin said Friday after a 2-hour workout at the John Rich Practice Facility. "Our energy, competitiveness and attitude, just the way we practiced out there, I was very, very pleased."
The second-year head coach isn't saying much publicly regarding the team's first session in Vanderbilt Stadium, which will come Saturday night. Privately, when they walk across Jess Neely Drive into the renovated venue, it likely will be a bit emotional for both Franklin and his players.
With their first practice in Vanderbilt Stadium just two days away, the Commodores continued to impress their head coach with another solid effort Thursday on campus.
The Commodores pushed through the 2-hour, 15-minute session that focused on special teams, scheme development and an array of individual, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. The coaches limited full contact, but continued to focus their attention on tempo and conditioning.
James Franklin liked what he saw from the Commodores for the second consecutive session.
"I thought it was a good one," Franklin said. "The offense is executing very well and the quarterbacks did an excellent job from a game management standpoint.
"Maybe I wanted the defense to play a little faster, but they were probably indecisive because of all of those looks our offense was giving them."
Full pads means full contact. And the Commodore freshmen got their first taste of it in the first Dore Wars drill of the preseason Wednesday afternoon.
At the conclusion of team stretches, head coach James Franklin gathered his players at midfield and summoned eight newbies -- four on offense and four on defense -- to go head-to-head in the intense competition.
In the drill, the offense has four plays to rush for 10 yards; if not the defense is declared the winner. Teammates of each unit surround the action, cheering wildly for their comrades in hopes of victory. Losers have to do extra conditioning after practice, so there's a lot on the line for the representatives of each squad.
Quarterback Patton Robinette, tailback Brian Kimbrow and linemen Blake Fromang, Adam Butler and Will Holden were picked on offense, while the defense consisted of linemen Caleb Azubike, Ladarius Banks and Harding Harper, and linebacker Jake Sealand.
Another hot, humid day and another practice for the Commodores. Vanderbilt staged its sixth practice of the season, and second in pads, on Wednesday afternoon.
The session lasted for 2 hours, 15 minutes and included a number of highly-competitive 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 situations.
"We still went thud but I wanted it to be win the situation and keep track of who won," Head Coach James Franklin said. "We didn't go to the ground, but I still wanted to keep track of who won for the running at the end, trying to make it competitive. We've handled that pretty well, and staying off the ground, I think, is important for us."
At the end, it was the defense that prevailed and hydrated themselves on the sideline as the offense was forced to run sprints.
After practice, Franklin also addressed the media about a meeting he had on the field with the freshman class.
"I kept the freshmen (on the field) after practice just because I think retention of your recruits and retention of your freshman class is very important," commented Franklin. "I've been hearing some grumbling.
"They are going through the freshman blues right now and fighting through the mental aspects and fighting through the physical aspects. And all these guys were the best players in their areas and in their high school, and now they are starting from the bottom and working to work back up the charts. I just spent some time talking to them about that."
Vanderbilt will return to the practice field on Thursday.
As evidenced by yesterday's video, Vanderbilt's coaching staff has wanted to keep the players focused on the task at hand, but also find ways to keep the team loose throughout preseason practice.
One such way to keep the mood light was the recent inclusion of James Franklin, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive coordinator John Donovan in a JibJab animated e-card.
For those unfamiliar with JibJab, the website enables users to upload an image of a person's head and superimpose them on the bodies of animated characters in e-cards.
Click here to see Franklin, Shoop and Donovan in the animated e-card titled "Breakin".
Video: Franklin addresses the team
AUG 8 10:37 AM
After each practice, Coach Franklin meets with his team on the field to recap the session. Franklin wasn't pleased with the overall performance of the coaches and players on the first day of full pads Tuesday evening, and encouraged the group to come back stronger the next day. WATCH VIDEO
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Vanderbilt's first day in full pads didn't produce the results the coaches or the players were expecting at practice Tuesday night.
Sloppy play and leadership concerned head coach James Franklin, who simply stated, "I don't feel good about what we did today."
The players and coaches ended the 2-hour, 15-minute session in separate meetings on the field to rally the troops going forward.
"This is where leadership comes in," Franklin said. "We need guys who have made big plays in the SEC and have competed at this level to understand that they have to lead. Right now, we need that from our players and our coaches."
Co-captain Jordan Rodgers thought that a couple of bad plays spiraled into more struggles, and from then on, it became contagious.
"We didn't have a play to turn us around," Rodgers stated. "How we act when adversity hits us is going to speak volumes to our success this season. We need to be able to respond from bad plays. We need to be able to keep drives going.
"We had some really good leaders leave last year. We need guys to step up. The time for the coaches to be telling us what to do is over. The leaders on the team need to take this team where it's going to be. Coach (Franklin) kind of walked away from practice letting that be in our hands and we're going to run with it."
Franklin hopes the team will respond to the challenge when the Commodores return to the gridiron tomorrow.
"As long as we learn from this experience, and it doesn't happen ever again in the next 25 years, then we've learned something," Franklin added. "But if it happens again, then it's my responsibility to get it fixed."
Jordan Rodgers, Wesley Johnson and Coach Franklin with the media after the Commodores completed their first practice of the fall in full pads. (Follow VUCommodores on Instagram)
AUG 7 12:22 PM
Football camp is a grind. The Commodores spend their days tirelessly preparing around the clock for the season until classes officially start. Wakeup calls start at 6 a.m., and the final meeting runs late into the night.
To keep things loose, the coaching staff makes it a priority to mix in surprises when the entire squad gets together. Just the other night, the players were greeted by loud music as they walked into their team meeting. The beats triggered an impromptu dance-off, and everyone got in on the fun-- even the coaches.
The Commodores wrapped up the team's final practice in limited gear Monday before beginning practices in full pads tomorrow.
The squad practiced for just under two hours in humid, cloudy conditions. The running game was the focus early in practice with senior Zac Stacy, junior Warren Norman and freshman Brian Kimbrow seeing action in the backfield.
For the second consecutive year, Dr. Dwayne Sagen, Vanderbilt Director of Bands, was asked to address to the team during preseason camp. In speaking with the Commodores, Sagen has been integral to teaching the team the alma mater and fight song. Watch as the Commodore freshmen learn the songs in front of their teammates. The returners get their chance to show them how it's done, too. WATCH
If you'll remember, Sagen taught Vanderbilt's 2011 team the school's lyrics last August, and guided the team in the fight song after James Franklin's first victory as a Commodore.
Before the Commodores head back to the practice field today, let's take one last look at yesterday's outstanding Dore Jam event in this sights and sounds video. Also, check out Daniel Dubois' photo gallery.
Your Dore Jam Tweets and Photos
AUG 5 7:02 PM
Did you miss Dore Jam today? No worries, we have you covered. Here's a collection of fan tweets and photos posted during the two-hour event.
Instagram: Dore Jam
AUG 5 5:55 PM
Fan Instragram by MatthewEarls
Instagrams by VUcommodores
#AnchorDown - Sunday edition
AUG 5 1:28 PM
Add another season ticket holder to the fold. That is 12. Have you done your part? #anchordown
Excitement for Commodore football continues to build as fans get their season tickets in the mail. TWITTER REACTION
Instagram: Alma mater
AUG 4 11:27 PM
Under the guidance of Dr. Dwayne Sagen, Vanderbilt Director of Bands, the Commodores rehearsed the school's fight song and alma mater in their team meeting following practice Saturday night. We'll post video in the blog in the near future. For more preseason photos, follow VUcommodores on Instagram.
Temperatures were in the upper 70s to the low 80s on Saturday afternoon as the Commodore football team wrapped up their third practice of the preseason. With a break from the extreme heat after the first two days, the players were that more engaged during the drills and scrimmages.
Head Coach James Franklin praised the level of intensity his team showed on day three.
"I thought it was much better," Franklin said. "They got a little bit of a reprieve from the weather. I think a bunch of the guys were doing some rain dances this afternoon to bring that in and it dropped the temperature significantly. I think our energy and how we practiced was affected by that, but I think we got a lot of really good work done."
On another warm and humid day in Nashville, the Commodores returned to the field Friday for their second practice of the preseason. Despite the hot conditions, Vanderbilt staged a high-energy practice that left Head Coach James Franklin pleased with what he saw.
"I'm a huge believer, not just in football but in life, it's how you perceive the situation you're in," Franklin said. "And today, they came out to get better, not just to get through it."
Franklin was especially pleased with the defense, which kept Vanderbilt's offense off balance with its aggressive play.
"Our defense, especially, had great energy out here and because of that it affected the whole practice," Franklin added.
Vanderbilt will return to the practice field Saturday afternoon before having a day off from practice on Sunday. On the off day, the Commodores will participate in the team's annual Dore Jam fan event from 4-6 p.m. Sunday at the John Rich Practice Complex.