Robbie Caldwell talks O-line, part II

Vanderbilt Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach Robbie Caldwell spoke with VandyMania recently and discussed the offensive line for the upcoming season. Today Caldwell talks about Vanderbilt's offensive guards. (part 2 of 4)

VM: Talk a little about the guard position.

RC: At guard we've got Josh Eames and reliable Merritt Kirchoffer (photo at right) are back for their senior years. Josh (photo at left), he's been Mr. Steady, is always doing the job and knows what to do and always doing the right thing. He's been a solid player for us and we are expecting him to step his game up even more. He's worked hard and has gotten his weight under control. He ran really well the other day when they were running. He had a little hamstring pull last year and he hurt his knee and missed a couple of games so that allowed us to get some guys some playing time. Hopefully we are building a little depth behind them. Ryan Custer (photo at left) played behind him and had to start several games last year and Ryan's back, you know we moved him to defense for a little bit because they were short handed because of injuries during the spring. The reason we did that is that Ryan had never played offense in high school, he had only played defense. We let him go over there to try to see if he could help us and he didn't fit as well, it turned out that they got some guys healthy, so he came back and I was real proud to get him. That's where he should be; he's playing guard.

Behind Merritt we have Drew Gardner (photo at right) and Ryan Vance (photo at lower left). Ryan has played a little bit of center but he has most of his time at guard. Those two have really improved. Ryan has was a little undersized but he's worked hard and got stronger in his legs and just played well this spring. I was very pleased with the progress he has made. Drew is a big unit that had to learn to be a little flexible and he has worked hard on that and has really improved his game. We feel like we've got some quality people back there that have got a little experience last year and they are maturing every day.

At center we've got Hamilton Holliday (photo at right). He's started for a couple years now and has just done a tremendous job. He's at about 295 right now and looking the best he's looked and really done well. He had a great spring, we are starting to do more with our centers and he's really enjoyed that. Behind him, who's been pushing for a starting job at either center or guard is Bradley Vierling (photo at left). Bradley played a lot last year at guard and played some at center. He's just been tremendous, great attitude, works hard, has gotten better, very athletic; he's the type he'll fight a chain saw and it running. That's what I like about him, he's a competitor and a great team man, whatever you need done he'll do it.

Photos by Stan Jones

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