March 15, 2013
On Campus in Nashville - Head Coach James Franklin enjoyed what he saw from his Commodores during the team's first spring practice session Friday. In fact, he enjoyed it a lot.
After directing the fast-paced, two-hour, 45-minute workout, Franklin praised the Commodores, telling the players the performance ranked among the most impressive practices to open spring practice that he had witnessed as a coach.
Eighty-four student athletes, including 16 returning starters and 43 letterwinners from the 2012 Music City Bowl champions, pushed through the intense workout at the John Rich Practice Facility.
Franklin lauded the team's hustle, focus and desire to improve after the practice, saying the session was a marked improvement over the squad's initial spring workouts from the previous two years. Afterward, he also recognized the efforts of his strength staff in praising the team's improved overall conditioning level.
With several area high school coaches watching from the sidelines, Franklin put the squad through a demanding session. The Commodores, dressed out in limited gear as part of NCAA acclimation requirements, pushed hard throughout the workout, which featured more than an hour of position drills and individual instruction, and several periods aimed at introducing and developing schemes.
The Commodores will return for their second spring practice Saturday morning, then take Sunday and Monday off.
New Faces at Quarterback
Four quarterbacks - redshirt senior Austyn Carta-Samuels, redshirt sophomore Josh Grady, redshirt freshman Patton Robinette and recent signee Johnny McCrary - shared snaps during much of the practice.
With 2012 starter Jordan Rodgers watching the festivities, all four quarterbacks shined during portions of the practice. The strong-armed Carta-Samuels, a former starter at the University of Wyoming, and Robinette, a former Tennessee state prep player of the year, looked more familiar with the offense. Grady, a starter at wide receiver in the Music City Bowl win, looks like a promising dual-threat signal caller while McCrary, a high school student just three months ago, displayed a ton of ability in limited snaps.
Commodores Return With Intact Coaching Staff
It's no accident that Commodore players had a better knowledge Friday of Franklin's expectations of how the practice should proceed.
The Commodores are the only SEC team to enter spring practice with their entire 2012 coaching staff intact. Vanderbilt is one of just nine schools from conferences affiliated with the BCS that return intact coaching staffs.
Grady Among Six Working at New Positions
Grady is just one of six Commodores to work at a new position during the session. Redshirt sophomore Derek King, a former cornerback, moved to running back. Redshirt sophomore Jacquese Kirk contributed at cornerback after playing receiver in 2012.
Three redshirt freshmen - Torey Agee, Cory Batey and Adam Butler - were playing new positions: Agee from defensive end to defensive tackle, Batey from receiver to strong safety, and Butler from offensive line to defensive tackle.
Former Players Watching from the Sideline
Rodgers was joined by several former Commodore standouts to attend the practice. He was joined by current Green Bay Packers' cornerback Casey Hayward and 2012 grads Trey Wilson, Colt Nichter, Ryan Seymour and Eddie Foster among others.