Could Webb be Vandy's top back?

In a unique take on the annual Black and Gold game on Saturday afternoon the Vanderbilt offense beat the defense on a late Patton Robinette touchdown scamper. Robinette, who does of course have history for making dramatic late game plays, scored on a bootleg from two yards out, giving the offense the win 21-16.

It was a game which was more about establishing new plays that dwelling on the final score, but it was a fun afternoon for all in a concept which saw the defense being rewarded with points for big plays like sacks and interceptions.

While the game got positive reviews from all involved there is a chance that people will look back on this in a few years as the breakout moment for one budding Commodore star. With most of the playbook being kept somewhat under wraps it was often left for the individual ability and talent of the players to make the difference on the field. Given the chance to shine redshirt freshman Ralph Webb did exactly that, wowing both coaches and a crowd of 8,400 with his athletic ability in the open field.

Webb started the spring buried on a depth chart which includes returning contributors Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow, but if Saturday is anything to go by it will be hard for Derek Mason to keep the Gainesville, Florida product off of the field this fall. Webb rushed for 114 yards on 14 carries and had the highlight reel play of the day when he took a handoff 60 yards to the end zone on a play which involved a cutback move so sharp it was amazing no one got hurt by it. As soon as he was in the open field it was over.

This development has to be one which intrigues Mason and his offensive staff. Last year the Vandy running game was never consistent, as Seymour, Kimbrow and the graduated Wesley Tate splitting carries. There was an overall lack of explosion though, especially given the precedent set by Zac Stacy, and it is worth noting that the 60-yard run which Webb sprinted for was longer than any Commodore rushing play in the entirety of the 2013 season.

It would be unfair to place high expectations on Webb at this point, but it will be interesting to see if Mason adopts the running back by committee approach which James Franklin did last fall, or if he wants to stick with one guy. If so it is worth nothing that Mason is high on Webb and is speaking highly of him to the media. "Once he got out in the open, he was special," Mason said. "I want people to know Mr. Webb did not just jump on the scene. He's had a great spring and he's played hard. He's giving Jerron and Kimbrow all they can handle."

Certainly this is an area of the team which will be worth watching to see what develops this summer.


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