Start of spring practice delayed until Feb. 24

Vanderbilt will delay the start of Spring Practice until Tuesday, Feb. 24 due to deaths in the extended families of two members of the Commodore coaching staff, Head Coach Bobby Johnson said Tuesday.

Vanderbilt will delay the start of Spring Practice until Tuesday, Feb. 24 due to deaths in the extended families of two members of the Commodore coaching staff, Head Coach Bobby Johnson said Tuesday.

The coach does not plan to move the Black & Gold Scrimmage from its scheduled date of Saturday, March 20.

"We reevaluated spring dates based on events of the past week. Weather permitting, we plan to get underway next Tuesday and keep the Black & Gold Scrimmage as is. If needed, we have the flexibility to continue practicing after the Black & Gold Scrimmage," the coach said.

Both Vanderbilt coordinators, Bruce Fowler and Ted Cain, have experienced deaths to relatives in the past week. The coaching staff spent Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio attending the funeral of Fowler's father. Cain learned Monday afternoon of the passing of his father-in-law in South Carolina.

Even with the adjusted schedule, the Commodores will be one of the Southeastern Conference's first teams on the practice field this spring. The Alabama Crimson Tide are expected to be the only SEC team practicing when the Commodores start next Tuesday.

Johnson, entering his third season at the helm of Vanderbilt football, is expected to welcome 29 Commodores who started at least three games in 2003. A multiple-game starter is back at every position for the Commodores.

Among the top returning Commodores are All-SEC defensive end Jovan Haye, three-year starting offensive tackle Justin Geisinger, two-year starting quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Moses Osemwegie, who finished the season last year as the SEC's second leading tackler.

The Commodores, hoping to improve off a 2-10 season last year, will entertain South Carolina in early September to open the 2004 season. Besides the Gamecocks, Vanderbilt's 11-game schedule also includes home dates against Mississippi State, Rutgers, Eastern Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee.


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