Vanderbilt Roster Preview: Wide Receivers

We continue our Vanderbilt 2016 roster preview with a look at the Commodore wide receivers. This is a unit that must have good year in order for the team to get to a bowl game.

Darrius Sims has been a do-it-all player at Vandy playing at multiple positions.  Last season he played running back and wide receiver. He's back to being a wide receiver. He's also returned kicks/punts and played in the defensive secondary some in his career.  Sims has blazing speed and great quickness along with super football smarts.  He's been spectacular at other positions. He's rushed for over 100 yards in a game.  He's returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game.  He had a pick six soon after starting to play in the secondary.  As a receiver, he's had 12 catches for 124 yards and no touchdowns. The longest catch was for 24 yards.  He'll probably be used a lot for running the ball, like he was last year. In a nutshell, the Vandy staff needs to take advantage of this kid's skill set and get the ball in his hands in open space.

Latevius Rayford is another solid receiver for Vandy. A senior from Memphis, like Sims, he has 54 career receptions for 530 yards and two touchdowns. His sophomore year (2014) has been his finest. That season he caught 36 passes for 350 yards.  Last season at Houston Rayford was one of the few bright spots for Vandy when he made a 20-yard catch.

Chandler Dorrell transferred to Vanderbilt from Stanford after his freshman year.  Dorrell has 13 career catches with just three of those coming last year.  He had 10 catches including a long reception of 36 yards against Georgia in 2014.  This is a kid that you have to admire his courage for staying at Vandy and playing for the offensive coordinator who replaced his father after the 2014 season.

C.J. Duncan is one of the reasons many Vandy observers believe that this 2016 team might have a shot at a bowl.  Duncan is a playmaker. He played quarterback in high school and was very successful.  In his first season at Vandy in 2013, he was redshirted but the staff experimented with him as a quarterback, running back and receiver, a position he settled into.  In 2014 he hit the ground running making 28 catches for 441 yards and four touchdowns. His 65-yard TD catch against Charleston Southern was the team's longest of the season and likely kept Vanderbilt from finishing with double-digit losses.  He was injured all last year so there is excitement about the prospect of seeing him on the field in 2016 with Sims, Ralph Webb (a good receiver), Trent Sherfield and others.

Trey Ellis is a walk-on player Charlotte, N.C.  He hasn't made a reception yet in his career but he has been a reliable punt returner, with four returns last year for 22 yards. He's a solid player to have in Vandy's arsenal. Playing wide receiver, he was the offensive Player of the Year in high school while also earning All-City and All-Conference honors.

Caleb Scott is a receiver who comes from a great Vanderbilt football pedigree. He father, Chuck, was an outstanding receiver at VU in the early 1980s.  Scott is a lot like his dad. He has great hands and knows how to get open.  In his first two seasons at Vandy Caleb has had 30 receptions.  Last season he made 24 of those for 339 yards and two touchdowns. His best game was a five catch performance at Ole Miss.  He also made that memorable 37-yard TD catch against Kentucky on one of Vandy's few trick plays of the season.  One low-light was a fumble at MTSU, deep in Blue Raider territory. He learned from that.  This young man looks like he is destined for a stellar last two seasons at VU.

Halfway through his Vandy career, Trent Sherfield has already etched his name in the Vanderbilt football record books.   Against Austin Peay, he snared 16 receptions for 240 yards. It was the most receptions ever in a game for a Commodore player.  Sherfield also had seven catches vs. Ole Miss, six at Tennessee and MTSU, and five against Missouri.  The Danville, Ill., native finished the season with a team-leading 51 catches.  With better quarterback play and a more polished offensive scheme, those numbers could improve in 2016 as well as for other receivers.

Reese Wilson is another hard-working walk-on for Vanderbilt. He joined the team following the 2015 season.  He played defensive back in high school but is giving wide receiver a try at Vanderbilt. He made an interception as a DB in high school so he probably has the ability to catch a pass on offense.

Winston Guillory is another grinding walk-on.  He did play wide receiver in high school and was pretty good at it.  He had 91 receptions for 3,350 receiving yards and 32 TDs in career. An amazing 83 of those catches came in his senior year.  He was offered by Cal out of high school but opted to walk-on at Vandy.

Kalija Lipscomb is an incoming freshman who was a 3-star prospect. As a junior, he had 64 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards while helping his team win the state title. During his high school career, Lipscomb had 130 receptions and 2,300 receiving yards. He picked Vandy over Nebraska, Northwestern and several others.

Donaven Tennyson, another incoming freshman, was a highly sought WR prospect out of Virginia. Michigan State, North Carolina, Boston College, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia are some of the programs that were after him.   Michael Clark of says of Tennyson, "Tennyson is a dynamic playmaker. He gets off the line quickly and runs crisp routes. Tennyson can make the tough catch for a first down or beat the defense deep."  As a senior in high school Tennyson caught 38 passes for 698 yards and 14 TDs. He led his school to two straight state titles.

Jackson Winrow, another freshman, picked Vandy over Purdue and Tulsa.  He played on both offense and defense for his high school, catching 52 passes for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also made two interceptions as a DB and earned All-Conference and All-State honors.

One final entry is another walk-on who should be reporting to Vanderbilt sometime over the next few days. Zack Smith caught 84 passes for 1,167 yards and 11 touchdowns last year at Mariposa high school in California.  Watching his video (below), he appears to be a big target with good hands. He isn't on the Vandy roster yet but should be reporting to the program soon.  

Overall, the wide receiver corps is not in as good of shape at the running backs who have  an All-SEC caliber player in Ralph Webb, however, this unit has some playmakers and guys with experience.  A lot of this unit's success will depend on how the offensive line pans out along with the development of sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur.   

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