Vanderbilt has a bit of a question mark at quarterback going into fall camp, but whomever emerges as the starter will have a very good group of receivers to throw to.
The fun part here is that entering last season, Vanderbilt seemed to have a giant question mark at the position after Kalija Lipscomb entering the fall. Then C.J. Bolar emerged as a true freshman, and get this: Bolar wasn’t even the highest-rated of the Commodores’ three receiver recruits last season. And this year, even more talent is entering the fold.
What to do with all of these receivers? Well, throw to them.
The Returning Starters
Kalija Lipscomb, senior: I appreciated the drama-free manner in which Lipscomb went about the NFL Draft process. Rather than waiting until shortly before the deadline to declare, Lipscomb simply put out a message on Instagram shortly after the season ended announcing that he’d be back for his senior year. Multiple publications have tabbed him as a preseason first team All-SEC player, and Lipscomb enters the 2019 season needing just six touchdown catches to become Vanderbilt’s all-time leader in that category. Considering he’s had eight and nine in the past two seasons, that seems likely barring injury.
C.J. Bolar, sophomore: Bolar entered 2018 as an intriguing prospect out of Purvis, Mississippi, but seemed to be buried on the depth chart behind Lipscomb, Chris Pierce, and fellow freshman Cam Johnson. After not catching a pass in the first two games of the season, Bolar notched at least one reception in each of the final 11 games, including a 6-catch, 93-yard performance against Tennessee. We can always appreciate guys who save their best efforts for the Tennessee game. Bolar ended the season with 34 catches for 440 yards and two touchdowns, and figures to at least duplicate that this year.
Chris Pierce, junior: It says something about Vanderbilt’s depth at receiver that Pierce, who started eight games as a sophomore and caught 13 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, will have to fight like crazy to hold on to his spot. Pierce has good size at 6’4” and 225 pounds, and could make a nice complement to the smaller, faster receivers around him.
Amir Abdur-Rahman, sophomore: For a while last season, this looked like a Derek Mason Special, burning right through a freshman’s redshirt year in order to get a minimal impact out of a promising prospect. Wouldn’t we all be better served to have the guy in a fifth year? And then Abdur-Rahman went and had the damn catch of the year in the Tennessee game (bonus points for doing it against them), which made it entirely Worth It. That was one of just four catches last season... but he also averaged 27 yards per catch.
Cam Johnson, redshirt freshman: Did you forget about him? The four-star recruit from Brentwood Academy seemed to be off to a slow start as a true freshman, with four catches for 45 yards through four games — and then he suffered a season-ending injury. The good news is that under the new redshirt rules, he got an extra year of eligibility out of it — and this sort of makes up for burning Abdur-Rahman’s redshirt.
Jackson Winrow, redshirt junior/James Bostic, redshirt sophomore: I don’t really have a ton informative to say about either Winrow or Bostic, both of whom have struggled to find their way onto the field at Vanderbilt. Winrow played in just three games last year and still has just one career catch (against Alabama A&M in 2017); Bostic played in six games last season and still hasn’t caught a pass. With all the talent ahead of them (and coming into the program), it’s sort of difficult to see either of them making an impact.
Justice Shelton-Mosley, redshirt senior: The Ivy League graduate transfer pipeline brought Vanderbilt defensive lineman Louis Vecchio (Penn) and punter Parker Thome (Columbia) last season, and this season, it brings Shelton-Mosley. A two-time All-Ivy selection at Harvard, Shelton-Mosley figures to make an impact in the return game, though he could also get on the field at receiver as well.
Devin Boddie Jr., freshman: The 5’11”, 178-pound newcomer from Whitehaven had 34 catches for 577 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He’s skilled enough to get on the field, but in a deep group he might end up being a redshirt candidate.
Jayden Harrison, freshman: Ditto for Harrison, a 5’10”, 192-pound speedster from Pearl-Cohn who had 45 receptions for 685 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. Harrison could make an impact in the return game soon, though the addition of Shelton-Mosley drops the need for that in 2019 quite a bit.
(If you’re curious, Donaven Tennyson is your annual “guy who mysteriously disappeared from the roster when it’s updated for the new season.)