Vanderbilt goes full contact

The Vanderbilt Commodores conducted their first live scrimmage of their 2008 spring drills on Saturday morning. VandyMania's Stan Jones was there and filed this exclusive report.

During an hour and a half live contact scrimmage the defense initially appeared to be ahead of the offense. However, the offense would have their moments of success.

The Vanderbilt staff is going all out to find the best signal caller for 2008. In years past the quarterbacks would be protected with red jerseys, on Saturday those were not used and the Vandy quarterbacks took their hits like everyone else. It looks like a battle between veterans Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams for the starting spot. While Adams was the morning's sharpest passer Nickson looked strong running the ball. Adams completed a 45-yard pass to Chris Reinert. Jared Funk also got into the mix completing a 46-yard scoring pass to Jared Hawkins. Red shirt freshman Larry Smith looked sharp at times but looks to be battling Funk for the third spot.

Hawkins and redshirt sophomore Gaston Miller looked impressive running the ball. Miller in particular ran tough and was seldom brought down by first contact.

Of the wide receivers Reinert looks like he has the best hands on the Commodore squad but his small stature could concern the coaches. Clemson transfer Andrew Diomande, who will be eligible to play for Vanderbilt in 2008, and Udom Umoh who wore a gold jersey because of his solid play during Friday's practice, also looked impressive. Veterans George Smith and Sean Walker saw limited action during the scrimmage. Turner Wimberly caught a 5-yard scoring pass from Nickson.

The Commodores have no starters returning to their offensive line so the staff is working hard to get the best players in those five positions. Vandy experimented with several different configurations of personnel but Eric Hensley and Thomas Welch look like they have the lead at the tackle positions. Ryan Custer is solid at the left guard position while the right guard position appears to be a battle between Ryan Vance and Drew Gardner. Veteran center backup Bradley Vierling looked strong at the center spot. Don't be surprised to see red shirt freshman Kyle Fischer make a contribution somewhere on the line in 2008. Reilly Lauer and James Williams looked improved and will battle for backup playing time.

A thunderous sack of Nickson by defensive end Steven Stone highlighted the day for the defense. Linebacker John Stokes and cornerback Alan Strong also caught the attention of the coaching staff. Safety Ryan Hamilton wore a gold jersey for his outstanding play during Friday's practice.

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