2007 Outlook: Receivers
Aug. 17, 2007
All-America Earl Bennett (6-1, 202, Jr.) tops the Commodore wide receiving corps. A preseason Biletnikoff Award candidate and unanimous preseason All-SEC prospect, Bennett is in the midst of a career that could go down as one of the finest in team and league history.
After racking up huge stats for the second straight year in 2006 - 82 catches, 1,146 receiving yards, six touchdowns - Bennett stands just 48 receptions shy of the all-time SEC record.
Though Bennett has a knack for making huge plays at key moments, he's anything but a stat-oriented star for the Commodores. He's as good a teammate as any Vanderbilt player, a guy that favors team success over individual achievement.
When preseason camp opens, the starting receivers along with Bennett in three-wide sets will be George Smith (6-3, 200, R-Jr.) and Sean Walker (6-0, 180, R-Jr.). Smith was the team's No. 3 receiver in 2006 and enters this season in the best shape of his career. Walker was one of the Commodores' most pleasant surprises a year ago, catching 16 passes in his first year of serious participation. Walker's quick burst and overall speed might be Vanderbilt's most electrifying player in the receiving corps.
Bryant Anderson (6-3, 210, R-Jr.,) is a steady possession-type receiver and one of the corps' most physical blockers. The coaches expect either Alex Washington (5-10, 180, R-So.) or Justin Wheeler (6-0, 180, R-So.) to blossom in camp, and force a playing role. Other receiver prospects are Chris Reinert (5-9, 185, R-So.), Larry Simmons (5-10, 165, R-So.) and Udom Umoh (5-11, 175, Fr.).
The Commodores expect improvement from their top two tight ends - Brad Allen (6-3, 240, R-Jr.) and Jake Bradford (6-6, 263, R-So.) - after each experienced their most substantial roles a year ago.
Allen developed into a solid blocker as a first-year starter in '06, but needs to improve his route-running and receiving abilities to become a bigger offensive weapon. Bradford possesses ideal size, and should develop into a steady contributor as he sees increased playing time.
Justin Green (6-6, 230, R-Fr.) progressed off the field, working hard to add weight and strength, and gives the team its best downfield receiver at the position. Matt Bubis (6-0, 228, R-So.) could contribute on special teams and in a reserve role.
Any of four incoming freshmen - Brandon Barden (6-5, 225), Tim Fugger (6-4, 225), Austin Monahan (6-6, 235) and Ryan van Rensburg - have a chance to secure playing roles with productive showings in fall camp.