We’re kicking off our offseason spotlight series.
As we did a year ago at this time, we’re taking a closer look at those players facing important offseasons and/or springs for all 14 SEC teams.
It could be a player who is recovering from an injury or perhaps coming off a so-so season. In other cases, the player might be filling some big shoes or stepping into a position of need next season.
The common denominator is that all of the players we highlight need to have big offseasons. We’ll follow up our blog posts each day with a video that expands on other players.
Up first is Vanderbilt, which is coming off its second straight nine-win season but has a brand new look with first-year coach Derek Mason.
Spotlight: Quarterback Patton Robinette, 6-4, 212, rising sophomore
2013 summary: As a redshirt freshman, Robinette saw action in 10 games, including three starts. He stepped in for Austyn Carta-Samuels after Carta-Samuels injured his knee against Georgia. Robinette quarterbacked the Commodores to a come-from-behind win over the Bulldogs, and in his second start, helped the Commodores win at Florida for the first time since the 1940s. Robinette finished the season completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 642 yards, four touchdown passes and five interceptions. He rushed for seven touchdowns.
The skinny: Robinette's experience makes him the guy to beat at quarterback, but he needs to take his game to another level this spring and offseason. A versatile athlete and extremely smart, Robinette delivered in some pressure situations last season while filling in for Carta-Samuels. His fake jump-pass and touchdown run against Tennessee was one of the plays of the year for the Commodores, but he also seemed to lose his confidence a little bit in the second half of the bowl game. One thing about Robinette is that he will embrace the competition and push himself harder than anybody else will. He'll get a run for his money, too, from redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary, who's 6-4, 225 pounds and has a big arm. Of the two, McCrary has the stronger arm and passed for more than 9,000 yards and 78 touchdowns in high school. He was an early enrollee last year, so this will be his second spring. It should be quite a battle between Robinette and McCrary, and you can bet with Mason and the new staff taking over, there will be fierce competition all over the place this spring. One other name to keep in mind at quarterback is true freshman signee Wade Freebeck, who won't be on campus until this summer. But the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., product recently measured at 6-5 and 215 pounds and chose the Commodores after initially being committed to Pittsburgh.