Darrius Sims emerged as Vanderbilt's most explosive scoring threat in 2014 despite only taking a few snaps with the offense. In 2015, Derek Mason plans on capitalizing on Sims's nose for the end zone by pairing him with Ralph Webb and utilizing him as a tailback.
Sims was one of five Commodores to earn an official position switch for the upcoming season when spring practices opened on Monday. The kick returner and cornerback was fourth on the team in touchdowns scored thanks to two kickoff return TDs (both against South Carolina) and an interception return. That talent led Mason to put Sims in the backfield part time in 2014, but the rising sophomore only got two carries in his new position. Now, Vanderbilt is hoping that a full offseason of preparation will make the speedy returner a valuable change-of-pace weapon on offense. If Sims can transition to the role, he'll give the team the explosive threat that they had hoped now-dismissed Brian Kimbrow could have been in years past.
Sims wasn't the only player to change places on the Vandy depth chart. 6'3", 237 lb WR DeAndre Woods will see some snaps at tight end and could wind up there full time if he can prove to be an effective blocker on the edges.. Former offensive lineman Sean Dowling will also move to tight end, swapping spots with Blake Fromang who will move back to the line. Defensive tackle Ladarius Banks is now a 270-pound fullback.
While students got a snow day on Monday, the Commodores' football players did not. Vanderbilt kicked off the earliest spring practices in school history when they took the field at the Indoor Practice Facility. Mason was pleased with the first day of work for 2015, telling reporters "We want to practice hard and practice smart this spring, and make the most of all 15 opportunities. We accomplished that today."