Vanderbilt loses key playmaker

Vanderbilt is not exactly blessed with a large number of experienced weapons at the wide receiver position, so losing a guy who ranked among the ‘Dores top players at the position last year is not a great way to get fall camp started.

C.J. Duncan’s injury, which has been described in most places as a “lower-leg” injury is widely expected to be a torn ACL. Recovery on this means that Duncan will miss the entire season and it is a huge blow to the Commodores offense. The sophomore went down during a camp practice session on Tuesday and it immediately became apparent that the injury was more than just a simple training camp muscle pull.

“I know C.J. is disappointed with the injury, and we share his disappointment,” head coach Derek Mason said in a statement released through the school. “He’s one of our most versatile and proven offensive performers, but even more than that, C.J. is very much a team-oriented player. As he recuperates, C.J. will be an encouraging and helpful presence to the receiving corps.

“We have several talented receivers on the roster with the ability to contribute more significantly to our offense. We expect them to step up to this challenge.”

Duncan’s numbers from last year do not look spectacular, but you have to put them into context given how awful the Vanderbilt offense was in 2014. Duncan averaged an impressive 15.8 yards per catch and his four receiving touchdowns were tied for the team lead. For the season he was second on the Commodores with 441 receiving yards and third in receptions with 28.

Duncan was expected to see a much more expended role this year as he is a dynamic playmaker who needs to have the ball in his hands. There had been some talk of having Duncan take reps at running back, but if the quarterback play progresses as expected then it would have been shocking to see Duncan take more than a handful of snaps all season in the backfield.

What Vandy will miss is the ability of Duncan to make big plays in traffic down the field. With modern techniques, however, an ACL injury is certainly not the career death sentence it once was and Duncan will have plenty of time left to make his mark as a Commodore in future seasons. Top Stories