Notes From Spring Football: Vandy
*The Commodores will enter preseason drills returning 19 starters, including nine on both the offense and defense, from a year ago when Vanderbilt finished with a 6-6 overall record. The campaign also included four SEC victories, the most by a Commodore squad since 1982.
*Bobby Johnson is entering the eighth year at Vanderbilt, the longest tenure by a Commodore head coach since Art Guepe served 10 years from 1953-1962.
*Johnson departed spring practice without naming a starting quarterback. Senior Mackenzi Adams, a six-game starter last year, and sophomore and Music City Bowl starter Larry Smith expected to contend for the job along with junior Jared Funk.
*Though sitting out spring drills recuperating from foot surgery, senior starting tailback Jared Hawkins is expected to return fully healthy for preseason camp. Juniors Kennard Reeves and Gaston Miller, and sophomores Jermaine Doster and Ryan van Rensburg took Spring Practice snaps in Hawkins' absence.
*Versatile Jamie Graham moved to defense during spring drills, looking to secure a starting role at defensive back. Graham had 17 receptions, including three for touchdowns, as a freshman receiver in 2008.
*All five offensive line starters from a year ago, including senior tackle Thomas Welch and senior center Bradley Vierling, participated in spring drills. Junior James Williams, a reserve in 2008, was one of the most pleasant surprises during Spring Practice, finishing as a potential starter at tackle.
*A year removed from knee surgery, senior Alex Washington was one of the team's top receivers in spring drills. He was a standout in the featured Black & Gold Scrimmage, catching a 75-yard touchdown pass. Washington's performance bolstered a thin receiving corps that lost senior Justin Wheeler to a knee injury during the opening practice of spring. Wheeler's return for the 2009 season is uncertain.
*Jared Hawkins was one of four Commodore starters to sit out spring drills due recovering from injury. The others were senior cornerback Myron Lewis, senior defensive end Broderick Stewart and junior linebacker John Stokes. All are expected to return healthy for preseason camp.
*Three veteran defensive linemen, tackles Greg Billinger and Adam Smotherman, and end Steven Stone, impressed during spring drills. The trio made up the nucleus of a strong line corps that includes seven players with starting experience from a year ago.
*Two sophomores, safety Sean Richardson and cornerback Casey Hayward, were impressive on defense during the spring. Both are trying to replace highly productive secondary starters in safety Reshard Langford and All-America cornerback D.J. Moore.
*Music City Bowl MVP Brett Upson, a three-year starting punter, took snaps as the team's field goal kicker along with promising redshirt freshman Ryan Fowler. The Commodores must replace four-year starter and all-time team scoring leader Bryant Hahnfeldt.
*The Commodores enter 2009 off their first postseason victory in 53 years. The 16-14 win over Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl also came in Vanderbilt's first postseason appearance since the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl.
*Vanderbilt's 10-victory total in SEC play since 2005 is the team's most league wins in a four-year period since 1955-58.
Vanderbilt is not on Alabama's schedule in 2009.
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