The Commodore football team took to the practice field Friday afternoon for the first time this spring in preparation for the 2012 football season. The practice was intense, lasting an hour longer than the standard football practice time. Coach James Franklin mentioned that this year's opening practice might be tougher than it has in years past.
"We're obviously in much better shape. We had a hard time practicing like that last year. We've come a long way," Franklin said. "I still have much higher expectations and I think our guys do too. For our first day, I thought it was pretty good."
After announcing earlier this week that former quarterbacks Kris Kentera and Josh Grady were moving to H-back and wide receiver, Franklin announced on Friday that Wesley Tate would move back to running back this spring after playing wide receiver last season. Running backs Warren Norman and Jerron Seymour are likely to miss the entirety of spring practice with injuries. Additionally, quarterback-turned-running back Lafonte Thourougood was held from practice today, although Franklin did not address his health.
Returning starting quarterback Jordan Rodgers shared repetitions with transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels and freshman early-enrollee Patton Robinette. Among the three, Carta-Samuels had the best afternoon, showing impressive arm strength and an ability to hit wide receivers down field. As the only quarterback with experience in the Vanderbilt offense, Rodgers appeared to be the most comfortable releasing his throws quickly, though he again showed a tendency to underthrow a few downfield passes.
Franklin has addressed that he wants to emphasize improving the passing game this season, and recognizes that the offense still has a long way to go.
"We have to do a better job of throwing the job during competitive periods. We need to work full speed even when the coaches aren't around," Franklin said. "I don't think we're doing a good job of that."
Wide receivers Jacquese Kirk and Jonathan Krause had impressive afternoons catching the football from each of the three quarterbacks. Among the defensive backs, Steven Clarke broke up the most passes, including two passes in a row from Jordan Rodgers intended for Chris Boyd.
Freshman early-enrollee Darreon Herring had an impressive first practice, breaking up multiple passes across the middle of the field. On one play, Herring shadowed tight end Steven Scheu across the field to break up a pass from Carta-Samuels. Herring showed impressive lateral speed and ball skill in coverage throughout the practice.
Class of 2012 signees Brian Kimbrow, Caleb Azubike and Corey Batey were all at Friday's practice in addition to former Commodore players Sean Richardson, Casey Hayward, Tim Fugger and T.J. Greenstone. Class of 2013 recruit Jalen Ramsey attended Friday's practice as well.
The Commodores return to the practice field at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning at the John Rich practice facility. All practices this spring are open to the pubic.
Commodores Begin Spring Practice
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