March 16, 2012
On Campus in Nashville - The energy level was through the roof Friday afternoon as Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin initiated his second spring practice with the Commodores.
Nearly 80 student-athletes, including two recent signees and four new walk-ons, pushed in an intense workout at the John Rich Practice Facility. Afterward, Franklin liked what he saw from his Commodore squad.
"I thought our energy was much better. I think we're obviously in much better shape. We had a hard time practicing like that last year. We've come a long way. I still have much higher expectations and I think our guys do too. For the first day, I thought it was pretty good," Franklin said.
With Commodore fans and several area high school coaches watching from the sidelines, Franklin put the squad through a demanding session. Though dressed out in limited gear as part of NCAA acclimation requirements, the players pushed for nearly three hours. Late in the session after a lengthy 11-on-11 team drill, Franklin brought the practice to a close with a series of competitive 1-on-1 tire pulls where the entire squad cheered and encouraged their two competing teammates.
The Commodores return for their second spring practice Saturday at 10 a.m. The session is open to the public.
Wesley Tate Playing Running Back
Wesley Tate, the team's fourth leading receiver last year, looked sharp at running back. Franklin said Tate would continue to work in the offensive backfield through spring drills due to a lack of depth at the position.
Three Quarterbacks Get Snaps
Three quarterback positions - 2011 starter Jordan Rodgers, Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels and recent signee Patton Robinette - shared snaps for much of the practice. Though the signal callers connected with several receivers during the 11-on-11 segment, including junior Jonathan Krause and sophomore Chris Boyd, Franklin said he expects to see improvement in the passing game as spring practice continues.
"The area I talked to the guys about after practice is we have to do a better job throwing the ball during competitive periods. That's something we have to talk to them about in the offseason. I don't think we're doing a very good job of that," the coach said.
Robinette, Herring See Action
Robinette, an All-State performer last year at Maryville (Tenn.) High School, was one of two recent signees participating in the session. The other, former Stephenson (Ga.) High School linebacker standout Darreon Herring, deflected two passes in team drills while playing outside linebacker.
Five New Walk-ons
Five new walk-on prospects have joined the team for spring practice. They are Luke Colbert, former standout quarterback at Montgomery Bell Academy; receiver Trey Wilkins, a Memphis product who transferred from Harding (Ark.) University; receiver Tyler Anders of Richlands, Va.; receiver Manny Amingwa of Whitinsville, Mass.; and kicker Marc Rosen of London, England.
Images from the first day of practice are courtesy of football SID Larry Leathers.