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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Opening camp: Vanderbilt

By Edward Aschoff

Schedule: The Commodores begin practice at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday. All of their practices are closed to the public. Players will be in helmets on Thursday and Friday, but will wear shoulder pads on Saturday and Monday. Their first day in full pads will be Tuesday, Aug. 6. Two-a-days begin Aug. 10.

On the mend: The Commodores enter the fall pretty healthy. Junior defensive tackle Barron Dixon missed all of spring with a shoulder injury, but should be ready for fall camp.

Key battle: The tight end position is a major concern for coach James Franklin. This spring he only had three tight ends on his roster, and none of them were very consistent. The position took a major hit when junior college transfer Brandon Vandenburg, who was the No. 1-ranked JUCO tight end by ESPN's RecruitingNation, was one of four players dissmissed from the team amid a sex crimes investigation. Kris Kentera and Steven Scheu are the front-runners for the starting spot, while junior Dillon van der Wal, who has yet to catch a pass in his career, will also get a shot.

Of note: Last season, wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd were the SEC's No. 1 receiving duo, setting a team record with 2,097 combined receiving yards. They have combined to catch 231 passes for 3,537 yards and 31 touchdowns in their careers.

Predicted order of finish at media days: The Commodores were picked to finish fourth in the SEC East.

They said it: "It's going to take us winning an SEC championship (to gain more respect in the league). I respect that. We don't have the tradition that LSU and Georgia have, but we are getting there and we want to be where they are right now. Since Franklin came in, we've been building every year, and I'm just glad that he came and we're building it up." -- Vanderbilt cornerback Andre Hal.