July 26, 2013
NASHVILLE - Coming off the program's best season in decades, more than 100 prospects are expected to report to campus next week as James Franklin opens preseason camp for the Commodores on August 1.
The list of student-athletes expected in uniform at the John Rich Practice Facility Thursday afternoon includes 17 starters and 41 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that went 9-4 overall, matched a school record with five wins vs. in Southeastern Conference play and finished with seven consecutive victories.
The Commodores will open the 2013 campaign by hosting SEC Western Division rival Ole Miss on Thursday, Aug. 29 in Vanderbilt Stadium. The teams will play before an ESPN national television audience, with kickoff slated at 8:15 p.m., CT.
Franklin is scheduled to greet Commodore newcomers on July 30 and the team's upperclassmen July 31 before beginning daily practices Aug. 1. He expects very few changes in the schedule from the two previous camps he has directed in Nashville.
In that span, Franklin has changed program fortunes, guiding the 2011-12 squads to a 15-11 combined record and the first back-to-back postseason bowl appearances in 123 years of gridiron history. Franklin's 2012 squad matched a single-season team record for wins that dates to the World War I era.
The head coach expects a highly competitive preseason camp, with numerous starting positions still up for grabs. Franklin established a competitive climate for the team's summer workouts when he declined to name likely starters at the conclusion of spring drills in April. The atmosphere of competition should continue deep into the August camp.
Even without announced starters for the Ole Miss opener, Franklin's Commodores have plenty of star power returning this season. The offense features eight returning starters from 2012, including consensus first team All-SEC wide receiver Jordan Matthews, fellow receiver Chris Boyd and 38-game career starter Wesley Johnson on the line. On defense, seven starters return, including All-SEC cornerback Andre Hal, end Walker May, linebackers Karl Butler and Chase Garnham, and the safety tandem of Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall. All-SEC placekicker Carey Spear tops the team's returning specialists.
The coaches will use the August practices to find replacements for several graduated standouts from a year ago. Among the top 2012 departures are record-setting running back Zac Stacy, two-year starting quarterback Jordan Rodgers, offensive lineman Ryan Seymour, defensive linemen Rob Lohr and Johnell Thomas, linebacker Archibald Barnes, cornerback Trey Wilson and punter Richard Kent.
The team's first four practices, extending through Aug. 5, will be held in limited gear due to NCAA mandates. Barring inclement weather, the Commodores' first practice in full gear is scheduled Aug. 6.
Season tickets starting as low as $145 for general admission seats on the north end zone hill and $160 for reserved south end zone locations remain available for the Commodores' seven-game home schedule. Other games in Vanderbilt Stadium besides the Ole Miss opener are Austin Peay, Sept. 7; UAB, Sept. 28; Missouri, Oct. 5; Georgia, Oct. 19; Kentucky, Nov. 16; and Wake Forest, Nov. 30. Season tickets can be purchased online at vucommodores.com, by phone at 615-322-GOLD (4653) or at the McGugin Athletics Center Box Office (Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.).
Ole Miss, Non-SEC Single Game Tickets Go On Sale Aug. 1
A limited number of single-game tickets for the Ole Miss opener and the three games involving non-SEC teams will go on sale to the public Aug. 1. The Ole Miss single-game ticket is $55. The UAB ticket is $40, with the Austin Peay and Wake Forest tickets priced at $35.
Single-game tickets for Missouri ($55 ), Georgia ($60) and Kentucky ($55) will not be sold until Sept. 1.