Monday, March 26, 2007

Update from the Gridiron

While the basketball contingent of the black and gold was doing us proud, the football squad has been hard at work the past couple of weeks with spring training.
The Commodores participated in 27-play scrimmage on Dudley Field Thursday, which saw a very solid performance by our offensive unit. Chris Nickson conducted a well run 8-play, 70-yard touchdown drive with highlights including a 25-yard connection with junior receiver Bryant Anderson, a good possession catch by our man Earl Bennett, and a nice 12-yard run over the left guard for a TD by Cassen Jackson-Garrison.
Former Arizona QB and transfer Richard Kovalcheck also conducted a nice drive with passes to Justin Wheeler and Alex Washington for 22 and 23 yards respectively. The drive was capped off by a 5-yard TD run by Jared Hawkins.

On Saturday, Johnson held a 65-play scrimmage which focused mostly on his less experienced players. Coach Bobby found a lot that he liked. Most of the players who got some time either were redshirts or first-year players who did not see the field as much in '06. Players of note who shone in the scrimmage were redshirt freshman QB Jared Funk, RB Kennard Reeves, soph. DE Quavian Lewis, jr. DT Brandon Holmes, and a nice secondary composed of sophomore safeties Joel Caldwell and Brent Trice, as well as freshmen CBs Alan Strong and Marquez Hall.

Lewis, Holmes, Strong and Hall have been especially impressive this spring. Also guys to look out for are Broderick Stewart at linebacker, Brandon Bryant, and CB D.J. Moore, who is gelling into a solid shutdown corner.

The Black and Gold Scrimmage is this Saturday and should provide even more opportunity for evaluation, as well as showcasing of our already-known talent.

On a final note, ESPN Insider Bruce Feldman had a sit down Q&A with Earl Bennett (aptly using the title that our man Seamus used in a previous post "His Name is Earl". Perhaps a copy-right violation?) Bennett talked about his choice of Vandy over Notre Dame, particularly how he was going to have to play defense for the Irish and Vandy would let him play WR (a recruiting strategy which we've emphasized several times). He also answered the typical ridiculous non-football questions (although how many SEC WRs can claim the last book they read was Great Expectations?).
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this brief Q&A was this interaction:
Feldman: Finish this sentence: Vandy will be a bowl team in 2007 if....
Bennett: There is no if. Vandy will be bowl-eligible in 2007 because of hard work and dedication.

I absolutely love that and it only further adds to my positive impression of Bennett. This is a guy who was really overlooked as a receiver coming out of high school, and say what you want, he will be the #1 receiver in the SEC next year. But it's about more than that; he wants to take this team to the next level. And as the #1 playmaker and a seasoned leader, that is exactly what the Commodores need. I cannot wait to see his performance next year.

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