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Vanderbilt Football 2012: Jerron Seymour Looks to Build on a Strong Freshman Campaign

Jerron Seymour started 2011 with a bang before fading down the stretch. Will an extra year of experience give him the second gear he needs to tear up SEC defenses?
Jerron Seymour started 2011 with a bang before fading down the stretch. Will an extra year of experience give him the second gear he needs to tear up SEC defenses?

Jerron Seymour isn't expected to be a major contributor for the Commodores in 2012. That's probably just fine with Seymour - he wasn't supposed to be one in 2011 either. He finished his freshman campaign with five touchdowns that season.

Seymour has gotten caught in the middle of Vanderbilt's running platoon thanks to the emergence of Zac Stacy, the return of Warren Norman, and the arrival of Brian Kimbrow. The quark-back is an unheralded but valuable runner who played a big role for last year's Liberty Bowl team. Despite his status as a true freshman, Seymour acclimated quickly to NCAA play and found success early in the season.

Seymour is a diminutive and powerful back who earned immediate playing time as a freshman in 2011. The Florida native announced his arrival at Dudley Field with a 40-yard first-quarter touchdown run against Connecticut. His brief breakout stoked a fanbase that had waited decades for an impact player to grace their backfield. While Seymour faded down the stretch and Zac Stacy eventually became that player, the freshman's contributions on the field were still significant.

More than half of Seymour's yardage - 145 yards - came over the first three games of the season. After that, his production and carries dipped. There are several potential reasons as to why, the most apparent being Stacy's development into an All-SEC running back. It's also possible that the long season, a switch at the quarterback position, and the preparation of opposing teams played a big role in limiting the freshman's momentum as 2011 wore on.

Seymour finished the season with 283 rushing yards - good for third on the team behind Stacy and Jordan Rodgers - and five touchdowns. His burst at the line of scrimmage made him a threat inside the red zone, though defenses adjusted to his running style as the season wore on. He finished with an average of only 3.2 yards per carry as the team's clear #2 tailback.

He also made a mark as a receiver for James Franklin's famous screen passes. Though his output diminished as the season wore on (and these plays increasingly went to Stacy or the team's wideouts), it was clear that Seymour has the hands and spatial awareness to make catches and gain yards afterwards. As the (likely) third man in Franklin's rotation this summer, he'll have to show that he can handle anything the Commodore offense may throw at him as a jack-of-all-trades.

Jerron Seymour may not get the headlines or carries that the team's All-SEC tandem of Stacy and Norman will receive, but he may be just as valuable. The sophomore has had a full year of NCAA-level weight and conditioning training, and both elements should help him stay explosive as the season wears down. With opponents focusing on the higher profile players in the Vandy backfield, Seymour should see some of the opportunities that he had earlier in 2011. This year, he'll be stronger, faster, and smarter when it comes to taking them.

Seymour may not lead this team in rushing yards in 2012, but he'll provide a consistent threat in the red zone and an important change of pace behind a pair of heralded runners. The sophomore will have to fight for his playing time, but he showed last season that he has no problem when it comes to earning his spot. Once again, he'll walk onto Dudley Field with limited expectations on his shoulders. Fortunately, he has all the tools he needs to exceed them - maybe even by the time the season opener is through.