This group of offensive lineman will be led by Captain Joey Bailey, Kyle Fischer and Ryan Seymour. One of the best traits of the offensive line players under Coach Caldwell's guidance has been the versatility he has developed in them to play at as many positions as possible. We look for that trend to continue as this season progresses. The losses of NFL draft pick Thomas Welch as well as Bradley Vierling, Ryan Custer, Eric Hensley, Reilly Lauer and James Williams leaves the 2010 squad searching for virtually a complete new offensive line.
Coming out of spring practice senior Joey Bailey is slated to be the starting center filling the spot of longtime starter Bradley Vierling. The redshirt senior has played at tackle, guard and center over his career at Vanderbilt, but seems to have found a home anchoring the offensive line at center this fall. He will be heavily counted on to help this young group quickly solidify. It appears that red shirt senior Chris Aaron will back-up Bailey should he be needed. Aaron is slated as the starter at guard as well. It is possible that one of the incoming freshmen could help solidify depth at the position.
The guard spots have two experienced players returning in red shirt junior Kyle Fischer and red shirt senior Chris Aaron. Both slotted at guard and each is capable of playing across the offensive line positions if needed. Fischer, who started six games last season and seven games in 2008, is the most experienced returning offensive lineman. He has played at both the guard positions as well as tackle during the past two years and should prove to be one of the best linemen on the team this fall.
Chris Aaron has worked very hard since arriving at Vanderbilt after transferring from Lehigh University in 2007. Playing at guard last year his playing time, his playing time increased as the season progressed. In 2008 he played at guard and as a reserve center. He will be pressed for a starting guard spot by red shirt sophomores Jabo Burrow and Caleb Welchans along with red shirt freshman Mylon Brown. Both Brown and Welchans are expected to compete at tackle as well as guard this fall. Welchans is the most experienced of the three after playing in 10 games last year at right tackle after injury to James Williams. Welchans split time with Reilly Lauer over the last 10 games. Brown hopes to work his way into the line-up after redshirting last season. He possesses the size and skills to play at either tackle or guard. Red shirt freshman Justin Cabbagestalk could also compete at either guard or center this fall.
Tackle will be the biggest shoes to fill after the departure of Thomas Welch to the NFL. However, a core group of young talent including red shirt sophomore Ryan Seymour, red shirt freshman Wesley Johnson and red shirt sophomore Caleb Welchans will battle for the two starting slots. Seymour, who played in eight games last season at tackle for the ‘Dores, is the most experienced returnee. He has shown great promise and will likely be one of the starting tackles this fall. After an impressive spring, Wesley Johnson appears to be in the lead for the starting spot on the left side.
With the absence of numbers on the offensive line it appears that the door will be open for a freshman or two to get a solid shot at contributing this season. Freshman Andrew Bridges, Grant Ramsey, Logan Stewart and Chase White all appear have the size and the tools to possibly contribute this fall.
STAN'S PROJECTED STARTERS
C Joey Bailey
OT Ryan Seymour
OT Wesley Johnson
OG Chris Aaron
OG Kyle Fischer
Kyle Fischer and Ryan Seymour. (Stan Jones)