Chris Nickson will graduate soon and most assumed that senior-to-be Mackenzi Adams would be the one to take over. Because of injuries during the 2008 season, the emergence of Larry Smith has put this position up for grabs. Smith played well in the win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl and also in the second half against Wake Forest. However, Adams has played in the system for four years now and has good running ability to go along with a decent arm.
OUR TAKE: Johnson likes to go with experience. Look for Adams to be the starter against Western Carolina on September 5th.
The Commodore staff must replace wide receivers and really three, as it was announced today that Jamie Graham will move back to cornerback. Senior Justin Wheeler, who caught 16 passes in '08, is the lone returner. Look for tough battles for other two positions between Alex Washington and John Cole for one position and Udom Umoh and Terrence Jeffers for the other position. Jeffers is a transfer from Connecticut who sat out the '08 season. Jeffers caught 44 passes during his sophomore season at UConn.
OUR TAKE: Look for Washington, Cole and Jeffers to emerge as starters.
D.J. Moore declared for the NFL draft so Vanderbilt must find a suitable gamer to take over his spot. As stated earlier, the versatile Jamie Graham is headed back to the defense. He'll have a battle on his hands with sophomore Casey Hayward who played well in several games in 2008. Myron Lewis returns at the other cornerback spot. Viscous hitter Alan Strong will also battle for playing time.
OUR TAKE: Although Vanderbilt currently has Graham listed as Lewis' backup, Graham will likely take over Moore's vacated spot leaving Hayward to fill a role similar to what Darlron Spead has over the past few years, as a nickel back.
The reliable Reshard Langford is graduating and leaves some big shoes to fill. Sophomore Sean Richardson impressed the coaches with his play during the 2008 season. Commodore fans will long remember Richardson for his heady special teams play during the Music City Bowl in which he scored Vandy's lone touchdown of the game after a Boston College punt return miscue. Senior Joel Caldwell or red shirt freshman Al Owens could also make some noise in the fight for a starting position.
OUR TAKE: Look for Richardson to emerge as a starter but don't be surprised if someone else, like Brent Trice, moves to this position.
Bryant Hahnfeldt finished up his career in style, kicking the winning field goal in Vanderbilt's bowl. Ryan Fowler, a South Carolinian who as a prep star was selected to play in the Carolinas All-Star game will battle walk on John Laughrey for the right to kick.
OUR TAKE: Fowler starts and takes over for Hahnfeldt.