March 11, 2014
Howell's Photo Gallery | Mason Interview | Robinette
On campus in Nashville - Sporting a broad smile, Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Mason told a group of media members that he was happy with the squad's first spring workout and expects more progress in sessions later this week.
"I thought they hustled well. It was a great first day, but there's a lot of room to get better," Mason said. "It was fun just watching these guys move around.
"It's (opening day of spring) always a teaching day so you slow it down a little, but I didn't see a lot of guys on the ground and that's a good sign. Overall, I thought we got the effort and intensity that we needed," the head coach added.
More than 40 letterwinners from a year ago, including a dozen returning starters, participated in the two-hour session staged under ideal weather conditions at the on-campus John Rich Practice Facility.
From the opening whistle, Mason and his staff pushed the Commodores through a brisk workout that included periods of conditioning, one-on-one instruction and position drills, and an extended segment devoted to introducing new offensive and defensive schemes.
Mason also praised the work of quarterback prospects Patton Robinette, Josh Grady and Johnny McCrary during a difficult session that featured new coaches, scheme introduction and a different practice routine.
"From an execution standpoint, we started a little slow, but it really started to pick up. I thought our quarterbacks started to get a little more comfortable with our cadence, getting guys lined up, getting them out of the huddle, and going through their read progressions.
The Commodores are scheduled to practice Thursday and Saturday this week. The team's first public workout will be Saturday, March 22.
Mason's last coaching hire participates in first practice
Officially added to the Commodore coaching staff less than an hour before the practice, former Utah State defensive coach Frank Maile looked comfortable throughout as the Vanderbilt's new defensive line mentor.
Maile, who played for Vanderbilt defensive coordinator David Kotulski as an undergraduate at Utah State in 2004, enjoyed superb results the last three years as defensive line coach at his alma mater. Like Vanderbilt, Utah State has enjoyed resurgence in the last three years, playing in three straight bowls for the first time in school history while compiling a 28-13 overall record during that span.
Williams, several former Commodores watch from the sidelines
Vanderbilt Athletics Director David Williams II and several former Vanderbilt student-athletes took in much of the from the sidelines.
Spotted watching the festivities with Williams were 2010-11 All-SEC linebacker Chris Marve, and at least four seniors off the Commodores' 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl championship squad: wide receiver Jordan Matthews, cornerback Andre Hal, kicker Carey Spear and defensive tackle Jared Morse.