The Vanderbilt Commodores released the first depth chart of the 2017 football season on Tuesday in advance of Saturday’s season opener against Middle Tennessee. The first depth chart of the season had few surprises: when the biggest news is that your starting fullback (Bailey McElwain) is suddenly second on the depth chart, there are few surprises.
McElwain, who emerged as Vanderbilt’s starting fullback as a true freshman, is reportedly dealing with an injury and might not play against MTSU. So Dallas Rivers is listed as the starting fullback. It’s not clear whether Rivers will actually play the fullback position much, though; Vanderbilt could easily go to a lot of one-back sets with Ralph Webb splitting carries with Khari Blasingame.
There was a minor surprise on the offensive line, with Jared Southers listed as the starting right guard on the depth chart, while Bailey Granier is listed as the backup to Devin Cochran at right tackle. At left tackle, Cole Clemens is the lone true freshman listed on the depth chart (behind Justin Skule) on either side of the ball. The depth chart also confirms Bruno Reagan’s move to center, where he’s listed as an “or” along with Sean McMoore; though it’s hard to see Reagan not being a starter somewhere on the offensive line. Ean Pfeifer is listed as the starting left guard, which was where he ended the 2016 season.
Not surprisingly, Deuce Wallace is listed as the backup to Kyle Shurmur at quarterback, and Trent Sherfield, Caleb Scott, C.J. Duncan, and Kalija Lipscomb are all listed at wide receiver. The order doesn’t seem particularly important as all four should see the field in different sets.
On defense, Vanderbilt is set to start three seniors — Jonathan Wynn, Nifae Lealao, and Jay Woods — on the line and two more (Emmanuel Smith and Oren Burks) at linebacker, with juniors Charles Wright and Josh Smith getting the nod to start at outside linebacker. That’s a very experienced front seven, though the depth behind them is untested, with five underclassmen listed as backups. Joejuan Williams appears to have won a starting job at cornerback opposite Tre Herndon, with Ryan White starting at strong safety and the LaDarius Wiley/Arnold Tarpley split again at free safety.
And finally, the news you all came here for: senior punter Reid Nelson has earned the nod to serve as the holder on field goals and extra points. Huzzah!