NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The continuing heat wave impacting Middle Tennessee didn't slow James Franklin's Vanderbilt football team on Thursday.
Facing temperatures in the mid-90s, the Commodores opened preseason camp by pushing through an energetic 2-hour, 15-minute session at the John Rich Practice Facility.
After suggesting he was "a little disappointed it wasn't warmer," Franklin insisted the pace of practice left little time for standing around.
"Some guys probably got double the reps they are used to getting in a practice," Franklin said. "I would have liked to see us fight through that a little better. We're a young team and have to learn how to fight. But, overall for the first day, it was pretty good. I want to see how they respond tomorrow."
Franklin welcomed 103 prospects to the opening day of camp, exactly four weeks prior to the team's season opener against South Carolina in Vanderbilt Stadium. Due to NCAA guidelines, the squad practiced in limited gear.
The first practice was a non-contact affair that included nearly 30 minutes of individual fundamentals and team teaching periods, and limited 7-on-7, 11-on-11 and special teams drills. It was also a session dominated by pace, with coaches demanding tempo, energy and intensity from start to finish.
McHaney's Playing Career Comes to End
After practice, Franklin announced the end of defensive end Thad McHaney's playing career. The team-oriented McHaney, a former standout at nearby Brentwood Academy, saw action in all 13 games last year, registering seven tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries.
The difficult decision came last week when Vanderbilt specialists conducted a series of tests after McHaney complained of persistent numbing in his hands. The redshirt junior made his decision after consulting with relatives, team doctors and athletic trainers, and coaches.
"It was in his best interest not to play football anymore. We love Thad and he's going to be graduating soon," Franklin said. "Thad is still going to be a part of our family and always will be."
Tate Back at Receiver
With 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year Warren Norman fully participating for the first time in more than a year, Wesley Tate was back at wide receiver. During spring drills, the redshirt junior saw time at running back.
Franklin called Tate one of the team's top athletes and most versatile players. "Wesley's a wideout, but we want to use him as a multi-purpose guy... all over the field."