Vanderbilt Position Preview: DEFENSIVE TACKLE

The Vanderbilt defensive line struggled with injuries during the 2010 which enabled two younger players to establish themselves with their solid play. The Commodore staff loses a good coach in Rick Logo but welcomes a new position coach in Sean Spencer. No depth chart was released by VU after spring drills but here's a rundown on how things could possibly end up at defensive tackle.



#74 T.J. Greenstone (6-3, 280 RS-Sr.)
#84 Rob Lohr (6-4, 280 RS-Jr.)


#58 Colt Nichter (6-2, 285 RS-Jr.)
#93 Josh Jelesky (6-5, 260 RS-Jr.)

Players to watch:

#97 Jared Morse (6-2, 285 So.)
#54 Taylor Loftley (6-2, 280 R-Jr.)
#53 Vince Taylor (6-1, 285 R-Fr.)
Barron Dixon (6-4, 280 Fr.)

While the Commodore defensive linemen will likely miss their former position coach Rick Logo, Sean Spencer arrives in Nashville with an excellent resume. He formerly coached defensive linemen at UMass and Bowling Green and his players excelled at both schools. At UMass in 2007 his linemen came up with 44 sacks which was one top team numbers nationally that year. During the 2009 and 2010 seasons Spencer's Bowling Green defensive linemen tallied 40 sacks. By comparison, Vanderbilt's defenders had only 20 sacks in 2010 while the offense gave up a whopping 36.

Logo left a well-stocked cupboard for Spencer. While Rob Lohr and T J Greenstone are set to likely anchor the two defensive tackle positions, an upcoming preseason battle will determine who will play at defensive end. Here's a breakdown of the tackles.

Tackle T.J. Greenstone is probably one of the most intense players to ever wear of Vanderbilt uniform. The 2010 season was frustrating for Greenstone as he battled with an injury suffered at Ole Miss throughout the remainder of the season. Greenstone, who is built like a bull, still managed to start eight games and played in nine contests but some of those appearances were very brief. Greenstone, who starred at Collins Hill High School in Georgia, has 15 career tackles for losses and 3 sacks with the Commodores. A healthy Greenstone in 2011 will bode well for the Commodore defense.

While he doesn't appear to be as intense as Greenstone, Rob Lohr (photo at right by Stan Jones) is just as solid of a player as his counterpart. Lohr excelled while veteran Adam Smotherman was sidelined and Greenstone was limited with injuries. Lohr garnered an impressive 35 tackles, four sacks and eight total tackles for losses. Lohr's picked up sacks against Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Ole Miss. It will be interesting to see how much the Commodore defense improves with a healthy Greenstone and Lohr on the field at the same time.

Colt Nichter (photo at left by Stan Jones) saw plenty of action during the 2010 season, starting the UConn, Eastern Michigan, Georgia, and South Carolina games. Nichter performed admirably, piling up 32 tackles, 5 1/2 tackles for losses and three sacks. Nichter who has very good build for a defensive lineman, continued to perform well in the spring, getting two sacks in the Black & Gold game.

Josh Jelesky (photo at right by Don Yates) has the frame and ability to be a great defensive lineman. He saw significant action in 2010 and had 15 tackles including two for losses. Jelesky, who was a starting linebacker as a senior at Naperville High School in Illinois, needs to add about 20 pounds of muscle to reach his full potential. He had a tackle in the Commodore spring game.

Jared Morse saw action in eight games last season as a true freshman and performed well. The burly lineman who has a similar level of intensity as Greenstone, Morse had seven tackles during the season including one for a loss. He also broke up a pass. During the spring game Morse continued to play well picking up two solo tackles and breaking up a pass. Morse earned All-State honors as a senior at Oxford High School in Alabama and has a bright future ahead of him at Vanderbilt.

Taylor Loftley saw action in nine games last season as a backup. He finished the season with seven tackles including four solos. In the spring game Loftley picked up four total tackles including 3 unassisted. Loftley, who chose Vanderbilt over offers from South Carolina, Duke and Stanford, still hasn't reached his full potential at Vanderbilt.

Former head coach Robbie Caldwell was open to playing true freshman Vince Taylor last season. However, Taylor suffered a wrist injury early in the preseason and was not able to play. Whether or not Taylor gets on the field this season remains to be seen. The very strong, fire plug built lineman from Mississippi has a very good attitude and had two solo tackles in the Black & Gold game.

Freshman Barron Dixon, who decommitted from Mississippi State in February to be a Commodore, has the size and skills to help in 2011 if needed.

Other Vanderbilt Position Previews

Defensive Ends
Defensive Tackles
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Running Back
Offensive Line

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