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Vanderbilt Fall Practice Preview

On Wednesday July 26, with just 31 days before the Vanderbilt Commodores kick off the 2023 season, Head Coach Clark Lea will lead his team into their first day of "fall" practice. The third year coach, with a career record of 7-17, has plenty to be excited about. While returning 73% of the offensive production is a massive positive for his squad, there are definitely position groups that fans will want to keep their eyes on.

Beginning with the offense, the quarterback room returns two former Vanderbilt starters in AJ Swann and Ken Seals. Swann, a sophomore, will likely be named the 2023 starter after having started 4 games and playing in 9 last season. Seals, who was the starter in 2020, reportedly did have a better spring. However, the upside for Swann gives him the edge. Two other sophomores, Walter Taylor, a 6'7" Alabama native, and Drew Dickey, a 6'1" pocket passer from Austin, Texas, did not see the field in 2022.

The offensive line certainly appears to be a strength heading into camp. Affectionately named "The Grease Gang" by OL coach AJ Blazek, the unit showed marked improvement in 2022 and returns more than 70 starts combined. Anchored by 5th year senior Julian Henderson at the center position, this group will have multiple moving parts and is among the most experienced in the SEC.

Defensively, the black and gold will be led by one of the most undervalued LB units within the SEC. Led by Pro Football Focus (PFF) All-American CJ Taylor, the crew also features the very first 5* recruit in Commodore history in former Notre Dame transfer Prince Kollie, Ethan Barr, former Clemson transfer Kane Patterson as well as his "little" brother Logan Patterson, and Bryce Cowan. Linebacker may be the most competitive room in the entire program.

Photo Credit- Vanderbilt Football via Twitter (no photography credit mentioned)

Certainly for a program trying to reach their first bowl game since 2018, there are areas of concern. Finding the number one guy in a running back room short on experience will be a major factor in camp. I would expect to see freshman Sedrick Alexander to make a fast impact and junior Patrick Smith to have a key role. Defensively, Coach Lea must find enough guys in the secondary to shore up a very leaky pass defense. One such player is expected to be Jaylen Mahoney along with Trudell Berry and De'Rickey Wright.

Vanderbilt will open the season in just 31 days when they kick off the college football season against the Hawaii Rainbows. Vanderbilt defeated the green and white clad club 63-10 in 2022 and is more than a double digit favorite to take care of business in Nashville on August 26.



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