March 27, 2008
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Black and Gold Scrimmage, annually the featured attraction of the Commodores' Spring Practice activities, is scheduled Saturday, March 29, in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Vanderbilt fans are invited to come out and see the spring progress of Head Coach Bobby Johnson's Commodores. Since opening spring drills on March 11, the Vanderbilt squad has worked to replace more than a dozen quality starters off the 2007 teams, including such likely NFL draft picks as tackle Chris Williams, receiver Earl Bennett and linebacker Jonathan Goff.
"I've been extremely pleased with the enthusiasm, effort and intensity throughout Spring Practice. I'm hoping that we continue the momentum Saturday," Johnson said. "We'd love to see as many of our fans as possible come out to the stadium and enjoy the scrimmage.
"It will be a great opportunity for Commodore fans to see the progress of a lot of younger guys who will be important to our success next year. There's still a great deal of competition for starting jobs on this team, and the Black and Gold Scrimmage is one of the last opportunities this spring for guys to take advantage and step forward."
The Black & Gold Scrimmage starts at 11 a.m., and is free to the public. Stadium entrances at Gate 2 near the intersection of Jess Neely Drive and Natchez Trace will open at 10 a.m.
The football scrimmage is part of a big athletic weekend on the Vanderbilt campus. Shortly after the scrimmage concludes, the Commodores will host SEC Western Division contender Arkansas in the second of a three-game baseball series in Hawkins Field. A limited number of general admission bleacher tickets remain for the Vanderbilt-Arkansas baseball game on Saturday.
"It's a great opportunity for followers of Vanderbilt sports," Johnson said. "My players would enjoy seeing a large crowd at the scrimmage, and Coach (Tim) Corbin's baseball team definitely deserves a full house rooting for them. It's a great way for Commodore fans to enjoy both sports at an inexpensive price."
Eighty Commodores are expected to participate for the scrimmage, which will feature an offense-vs.-defense format for the seventh consecutive year under Johnson.
Squad Into Third Week of Spring Practice:
An eight-series scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium was the highlight Tuesday as the Commodores started their third week of spring drills. The squad also staged a full-gear session on Wednesday and are expected to practice Thursday and Friday prior to the scrimmage on Saturday.
The Commodores will conduct at least one practice next week following the Black and Gold Scrimmage. The extra session will be the 15th this spring, and effectively will replace a practice postponed by weather last week.
Wearing Gold Jerseys:
During Tuesday's practice, Johnson awarded gold jerseys to junior receiver Justin Wheeler and senior defensive back Jared Fagan for their efforts in the team's scrimmage last Saturday. On Wednesday, junior center Bradley Vierling and redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Marve were recognized with the gold jerseys for their performances during Tuesday's practice.
Jamie Graham Back at Practice:
Jamie Graham, the product of Whites Creek High School in Nashville who redshirted in 2007 as a defensive back, is back with the Commodores for the final week of Spring Practice after a winter contributing on the Vanderbilt basketball squad. Since joining the football team on Tuesday, Graham has worked out as a wide receiver and return specialist in position drills. He spent last fall as a defensive back.
Graham served a key role late in the season as a defensive specialist at guard for Kevin Stallings' squad. He saw substantial playing time in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships, contributing six points, two steals and plenty of intensity in 10 minutes of action.
Graham is not expected to see action in the Black and Gold Scrimmage. Others not expected to participate are linebackers Brandon Bryant, Patrick Benoist and Michael Garcia, defensive back Darlron Spead, defensive end Tim Fugger and tight end/fullback Matt Bubis.