On Campus in Nashville – The Vanderbilt Commodores began putting the disappointment of last year's campaign in the rearview mirror Wednesday, kicking off spring drills with an energetic, two-hour workout at the John Rich Practice Facility.
Head Coach Bobby Johnson greeted more than 70 prospects, including 13 starters and 45 letterwinners from the 2009 squad, for the practice. As he left the practice field, Johnson was pleased with the non-pad session that focused on fundamentals and scheme building.
"It's the first one and helmets only, but I thought the attitude was good throughout the team. The guys wanted to learn and wanted to get better," Johnson said. "We wanted to work on the scheme and get some other things accomplished, and I think we succeeded doing that."
Much of the practice resembled the initial from a year ago. The squad started by focusing on special teams, then moved to individual fundamentals and position drills. The staff also spent nearly an hour on 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. The offense closed practice with 10 extra minutes aimed at the passing game, with new offensive coordinator Jimmy Kiser working with quarterbacks Larry Smith, Jared Funk, Jordan Rodgers and Charlie Goro, and position coaches Charlie Fisher and Ted Cain instructing the receiving corps and tight ends.
The Commodores will return to the practice field Friday afternoon and Saturday during the first week of spring drills. The squad is expected to work through mid-April, with the featured Black & Gold Scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, April 10.
Limited Position Changes
Only a few Commodores were working at new positions Wednesday.
Jabo Burrow, a redshirt sophomore who spent the 2009 season at defensive tackle, has moved to the offensive line. Another sophomore, Micah Powell, practiced at linebacker after playing safety last year.
Offseason Conditioning Effort Lauded
Johnson praised the team’s conditioning effort after several younger Commodores displayed increased size and strength following John Sisk's offseason weight program.
"Our guys have done a great job, especially since the season ended," Johnson said. "We continue to get a tremendous amount done through the offseason program, and I think it's really important to helping us get off to a great start with spring practice."
Several Commodores have benefited from the increased strength routine. Burrow and redshirt freshman Walker May have added 20 pounds each since preseason camp. Three redshirt freshman offensive linemen – Mylon Brown, Justin Cabbagestalk and Wesley Johnson – are 15 pounds heavier. Even sophomore tailback Zac Stacy is up 10 pounds from his playing weight last fall.