Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin released the depth chart for the Elon game during Monday's press conference. The depth chart is the first Franklin has released this season.
Of note, eight of last year's starters on offense are once again listed at the top of the depth chart. Among the returning starters is quarterback Larry Smith. Franklin stated that Smith "very clearly" earned the starting quarterback job. "I think if you just look at his body of work," Franklin said. "The reps he got this spring. The reps he got all summer. How he approached the game in his preparation. Like I've mentioned before, you are talking about a guy I would recruit every year in terms of his physical skills."
Smith beat out Jordan Rodgers for the starting role. "Jordan Rodgers has done some good things," Franklin said. "I think he was put at a little bit of disadvantage not being involved in spring ball and not having an opportunity to compete. It is hard when you are learning a new offense to not have the spring and the fall to compete."
On the defensive side of the ball, seven starters from last year earned a starting job again.
Below is a closer look at the starters.
QB - Larry Smith: Third year as starting QB. Beats out Jordan Rodgers. Rodgers missed all of spring practice due to injury and never caught up. Josh Grady will be the third string quarterback.
RB - Zach Stacy: Beats out Warren Norman for starting job. Made three starts last season as Warren Norman's backup. Missed final three games due to injury. Norman was slowed by injury in the spring and will serve as Stacy's backup. Franklin on Norman: "Warren will be a big focus of what we are doing. Warren will grow into bigger role as season progresses."
WR - Jordan Matthews: Touchdowns in final four games last season and started against Wake Forest. Had a very strong preseason camp.
Udom Umoh: Three-year starter made 10 starts last year. Jonathan Krause: Started 10 games last year and will be the team's slot receiver.
TE - Brandon Barden: Third-year starter ranks second in school history in receptions by tight ends. Austin Monahan is healthy and will back Barden up.
FB - Fitz Lassing: Commodores did not use a fullback in its starting offense last season. Mason Johnston, a tight end last year, will provide depth at the position.
LT - Ryan Seymour: Moves from right to left tackle after starting 10 games last season on the right side.
LG - Jabo Burrow: Only starter on offensive line who remains in same position from last year.
C - Wesley Johnson: Started at left tackle in all 12 games last season. Has been spending time at center since spring drills. Logan Stewart, who started the final six games at center last year, has been out during preseason camp.
Donovan to call plays:
Franklin announced that offensive coordinator John Donovan will call the plays in the first game against Elon. Franklin did leave the door open for him to call plays at a later time this season. Franklin will still be very involved and noted, "that doesn't mean that I will not call plays during the game and that I haven't been involved in the entire game plan.
"I am very confident in him. I've been very impressed with how he has prepared our offense and gotten them ready to play."
Franklin also attributed the decision to the CEO role he has taken on with the program and that he is unable to sit in every meeting due to all the obligations he has.
Asked whether he will be nervous for this first game? "My wife asked me the same question every morning," Franklin said. "I'm not a guy who gets real excited or real nervous a week ahead of time. I'll obviously have those butterflies that are natural on gameday. I'm Too busy with the job to anticipate what it will feel like on Saturday to be nervous."
Franklin noted that not one player is currently unavailable for Saturday's game.