The summer semester at Vanderbilt begins on Tuesday, so the incoming freshman class should be on campus very soon. With that in mind, we thought we'd update you on the team's roster entering the preseason.
At the moment, Vanderbilt projects to have 82 scholarship players for the 2016 season, three below the NCAA limit. Last season, the Commodores had (by my count) 81 players on scholarship, with 8 seniors. In addition, 11 other players have left the program:
- Stephen Weatherly declared for the NFL Draft.
- Harding Harper, Colby Cooke, Ladarius Banks, Blake Fromang, and Kevin McCoy elected not to return for a fifth year in the program.
- Johnny McCrary, Tre Bell, Ronald Monroe, Rashad Canty, and Sekou Clark transferred.
|Vanderbilt Football Scholarship Chart -- 2016|
|QB||Wade Freebeck||Kyle Shurmur, Shawn Stankavage*||Deuce Wallace||4|
|RB||Ralph Webb*, Dallas Rivers||Josh Crawford||Jaire George*, Jamauri Wakefield||5|
|FB||Kyle Anderton, Khari Blasingame*||2|
|WR||Darrius Sims, Latevius Rayford||Caleb Scott, Trent Sherfield, C.J. Duncan*||Donaven Tennyson, Kalija Lipscomb, Jackson Winrow||8|
|TE||Sean Dowling**||DeAndre Woods*, Nathan Marcus*||Sam Dobbs||Jared Pinkney*, Turner Cockrell||6|
|OL||Andrew Jelks***, Barrett Gouger*, Will Holden*||Delando Crooks*, Egidio DellaRipa**||Cole Hardin*, Bruno Reagan*, Justin Skule, Bailey Granier*||Ean Pfeifer*, Jared Southers*, Devin Cochran, Braden Kopp, Sean Auwae||14|
|DL||Adam Butler*, Torey Agee*||Jonathan Wynn*, Jay Woods*, Nifae Lealao||Dare Odeyingbo, Riley Tindol*||Darion DeBrossard*, Cameron Tidd, Drew Birchmaier, Josiah Sa'o||11|
|LB||Ja'karri Thomas*, Nehemiah Mitchell*||Zach Cunningham*, Nigel Bowden*, Landon Stokes*||Jay Hockaday, Jordan Griffin, Josh Smith, Charles Wright*||Caleb Peart*, Andre Mintze, Kenny Hebert||12|
|DB||Torren McGaster*||Taurean Ferguson*, LaDarius Wiley, Tre Herndon, Arnold Tarpley, Emmanuel Smith, Ryan White*, Oren Burks*, Jalen Banks*||Andrew Rector, Donovan Sheffield, Bryce Lewis*||Zaire Jones, Joejuan Williams, Frank Coppet, Austin Quillen, Elijah Hamilton||17|
|*Player has used a redshirt year.|
|**Dowling and DellaRipa did not play one season, but are not listed on the roster as redshirts.|
|***Jelks is eligible for a medical hardship and may gain a sixth year of eligibility.|
So 82 scholarship players and only 11 seniors -- and two of those are special cases. Andrew Jelks missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL; he'll be granted a sixth year of eligibility if he wants it. Sean Dowling is listed as a senior on the roster, but according to the team website he didn't play in his first year on campus; it's not clear why he is listed as a senior rather than a redshirt junior.
Of course, Dowling and some of the redshirt juniors may decide not to return for a fifth year anyway -- some guys inevitably decide they'd rather move on with their lives than spend another year buried on the depth chart. So there will be a few more than 12 scholarships to give in the 2017 recruiting class.
You can also see the experience building on the team. The 2014 team was ridiculously young, and even last year's team only had 23 upperclassmen. This year's team has 36. That experience will hopefully lead to better results on the field.