Newcomer of the Year
* Kalija Lipscomb - (True Fr) - Wide Receiver *
The true freshman receiver from New Orleans busted on the scene early in fall practice and quickly established himself as a go to guy for Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur. Lipscomb showed early in camp that he was a sure handed guy that was willing to go over the middle and be that physical receiver needed to gain yards after the catch. He did so well in camp that the 6'1 wideout earned a starting spot in the home opener. Lipscomb became a fan favorite early on and eventually becoming a starter the majority of the season.
An injury at mid season slowed the progress for Lipscomb but by year's end, he quickly jumped back into the thick of things and came up with some clutch plays to helped lead the team to victory. Another reason for Lipscomb's honor here is the fact that he solidified the role of punt returner. Lipscomb's hands on offense came in handy on special teams and that is something that is taken for granted. His splash in the return game came in the Commodores bowl contest against NC State. He returned a punt 71 yards to put his offense near the goal line and help his team get back into game. Lipscomb proved throughout the year that he was dependable. His strong work on offense helped the team move the ball and his contributions on special teams, put the team in situations to score points.
Lipscomb finished the year with 27 receptions for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also returned the ball 10 times for 149 yards with a long of 71. The Bayou state receiver is a dynamic play maker that is just now tipping his capabilities of a football player. An injury slowed down his progression but he came back strong and is headed into the offseason as a known commodity. Vanderbilt should have one of the best receiving corps in the conference with the return of Lipscomb, Trent Sherfield, Caleb Scott, C.J. Duncan, Jared Pinkney and others.
The Arkansas native interior lineman came into the lineup two games into the season and by year's end, moved his way into the starting lineup and never left. Pfeifer had a solid season and still has some growing to do but showed he could handle SEC defensive lineman and work with the rest of his fellow lineman. The red-shirt freshman guard earned his spot on the field and could have established himself as the starter at left guard for years to come. It's still possible that Pfeifer could get a look at center in the offseason.
The true freshman cornerback slowly made his way onto the field early in the season as a backup but by the end of the season, he was playing more than others, including veterans. Williams is a local product that was highly recruited out of high school but had to sit his senior year due to a transfer rule. He didn't show any rust when getting back onto the field in 2016. Look for the 2017 season to be a breakout year for the former 4-star recruit.