Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Strong and weak: Vanderbilt Commodores
By Edward Aschoff
We end our look at the strongest and weakest positions for all 14 SEC teams by talking about the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Strongest position: Wide receiver
The Commodores have one of the top receiving corps in the SEC. Starters Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd are among the league's best duos. Indeed, Matthews could be one of the country's best receivers entering his senior season in 2013. He has 2,282 career receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 150 catches; more than 1,300 of those yards came last year. Matthews is the star, but Boyd is certainly no slouch -- he caught 50 passes for 774 yards and five touchdowns in his second year on the field. Behind them, the Commodores have bodies, but not a ton of production. Senior Jonathan Krause only caught nine passes last season, but he's a very athletic player who can only go up in this offense. Five receivers were a part of Vandy's recruiting class, and all of them could be in line for immediate playing time, especially Jordan Cunningham, who was an ESPN 150 member.
At defensive end, the Commodores have one of the most underrated players in the SEC in Walker May. He's a little undersized, but registered 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks last year. He has an extremely high motor and is hard to out-work. Junior Kyle Woestmann is another under-the-radar guy, but had five sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles last year. And sophomore Caleb Azubike could be a budding star in this league. He's rangy, fast and athletic and is coming off of a four-sack season. He had a great spring and should see the field even more this fall.
Weakest position: Tight end
Commodores coach James Franklin was very worried about tight end heading into spring, during spring and after spring. There were only three tight ends on the roster this spring, and the staff was never fully satisfied with their consistency -- or lack thereof. Kris Kentera led Vandy's tight ends with 10 catches last year, but redshirt sophomore Steven Scheu, who caught eight passes in 2012, has what it takes to grab the starting spot this fall. Then there's junior Dillon van der Wal, who has played primarily on special teams and as a backup tight end. He has yet to catch a pass during his career. Options really are limited for Franklin and his staff here. Finding someone to take the reins at this position is the first order of business for the fall.