Preview 2008: Defensive line

As part of VandyMania.com's continuing preview of the 2008 Vanderbilt football team today we check out the defensive line. The Commodores open their 2008 season on August 28th when they visit Miami (Ohio).

UPDATE: 1 August- Walk-on defensive tackle Bo Cramer has left the team due to a hip injury. ((Source VU Media Relations)

Overiew:

Hard hit by graduation, the Vanderbilt defensive line will be a key to the Commoodore's hopes for success in 2008. While three outstanding players are gone, Vanderbilt fans can have peace of mind in knowing that a good group of returning lettermen along with a solid crew of up-and-coming redshirt freshmen are ready to make an impact. Assistant coach Rick Logo will have them all ready to rumble by the Miami (Ohio) game in late August.

Starters lost:

Curtis Gatewood
Gabe Hall
Theo Horrocks

Returning starters:

Steven Stone (DE) (6-5, 265, R-Jr.)- Stone is turning into a monster for Vandy. He had 8 tackles for losses including 4 sacks in 2007. Stone has 14.5 tackles for losses in 2 season.

Others to watch:

Defensive Tackles

Greg Billinger (6-2, 290, Jr.)- Listed as a starter after spring drills. Greg has 6 career tackles and had an interception last year against Eastern Michigan.
Bo Cramer (6-4, 265, R-Fr.)- Hard working walk-on.
Derrius Dowell (6-2, 285, R-Jr.)- Listed as a backup to starter Greg Billinger after spring practice. Dowell has seen very little action during his career at vandy.
James Elledge (6-4, 285, R-Fr.)- Hard working walk-on.
T.J. Greenstone (6-2, 275, R-Fr.)- Redshirted last season, look for Greenstone to see action this season. After spring drills Greenstone was listed as A. Smotherman's backup. He's a big, strong and fast player.
Rob Lohr (6-4, 245, Fr.)- Lohr had 15 quarterback sacks as a senior last year. Could play end.
Colt Nichter (6-2, 275, Fr.)- Named First Team All-State in Utah.
Ryan Seymour (6-4, 250, Fr.)- Named a member of Georgia "Super South 11 Team". Could end up at end.
Adam Smotherman (6-4, 280, R-So.)- Local product won a starting position in the spring.

Defensive Ends

Teriall Brannon (6-3, 235, R-So.)- Brannon and T. Fugger were in a dead heat to be Stone's backup after the spring.
John Burrow (6-4, 222, Fr.)- Had 9 sacks as a senior last season. Had 400 career tackles for Mortimer Jordan high school.
Tim Fugger (6-4, 250, R-Fr.)- Fugger was competing with Teriall Brannon for the right to back up Steven Stone after spring drills. Fugger redshirted in 2007.
Josh Jelesky (6-5, 234, Fr.)- One of the top 30 prospects in the Chicago area according to the Chicago Tribune.
Theron Kadri (6-3, 250, So.)- Kadri was one of the few Commodores to see action last year as a true freshman. He's very athletic and should see significant playing time.
David Leinweber (6-5, 245, R-Jr.)- Hard working walk-on.
Taylor Loftley (6-2, 250, Fr.)- Picked Vandy over Stanford, South Carolina, Duke and others. Could end up at tackle.
Sam Panke (6-2, 230, R-Jr.)- Hard working walk-on.
Broderick Stewart (6-5, 228, R-Jr.)- A sack specialist as a backup over the past two seasons, Stewart has made life hard for opponents in passing situations. He's got a whopping 11 career sacks. Listed as a starter, he'll be playing a bigger role this season and hopefully can put on some more weight before the season opener.
Johnell Thomas (6-2, 240, Fr.)- Had 115 tackles, 5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Could end up as a tackle, which is what he played in high school.

Projected starters:

Broderick Stewart (DE)
Steven Stone (DE)
Greg Billinger (DT)
Adam Smotherman (DT)

Biggest question for 2008:

Can Broderick Stewart get it done in both passing and rushing situations?

Vanderbilt defensive line power rating (1-10): 8.0


Broderick Stewart (right) has 11 career sacks for Vanderbilt. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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