Spring football is upon us, and that means our first official look at the 2016 Vanderbilt Commodores. Head coach Derek Mason is headed into his third season at the helm, and while he doubled Vandy's wins from two to four last year, any regression in Nashville could spell the end of his tenure in black and gold.
The Commodores have made a few changes with their roster after an eventful 2015. Some key players have gone. Others are returning at new positions. Three brand new - and highly rated - freshmen are already on campus. Today, we'll look at exactly what has changed on the Vanderbilt roster since the tail end of last year's 4-8 campaign.
There wasn't a ton of movement when it came to Commodores switching positions this offseason. Many of Vandy's new designations are cosmetic changes, like Andrew Jelks and Will Holden being moved from "OT" to "OL." Those two are both still tackles, just not labeled as such for 2016.
Other changes confirmed some position changes for young players who will have the chance to shine this fall. 6'4, 250-pound second-year player Jared Pinkney not only successfully got a medical redshirt after playing in just one game last season, but he's also moved from wide receiver to tight end. Dare Odeyingbo moved from linebacker to the defensive line, where he'll play on the end. Sophomore stud Josh Smith will move from inside linebacker to a pass-rushing role on the outside, where he'll hope to fill Stephen Weatherly's shoes. And, as is tradition, Darrius Sims earned another position change, switching back from wide receiver to running back.
Here's the full list of changes from the team's official roster:
|Player||Old Position||New Position|
Of course, those weren't the only changes to the Commodores' roster. Eleven players who still had NCAA eligibility departed from the program this winter. The aforementioned Weatherly declared for the NFL Draft after four years on campus. Former starters Johnny McCrary and Tre Bell decided to transfer. Potential fifth-year seniors Kevin McCoy, Harding Harper, Ladarius Banks, and Colby Cooke elected not to come back for a final season at Dudley Field. The future of younger athletes like Rashad Canty and Sekou Clark are less clear:
|No Longer on the Vanderbilt Roster|
Those departures left room for a 20-man recruiting class. Three of those brand new Commodores are already on campus. Here are the latest additions to the Vanderbilt roster:
|Player||Position||247Sports Composite Ranking|