Commodore Preseason Underway as Ideal Conditions Greet Freshmen, Walk-ons During Wednesday Morning Session 8/7/02

On Campus in Nashville - The Vanderbilt Class of 2006 - 21 freshmen signees and six walk-on prospects - went through a brisk conditioning practice Wednesday morning as Head Coach Bobby Johnson and his staff started preseason preparations for the 2002 football season.

The freshmen and walk-ons were pushed through a two-hour session that featured conditioning and position instruction - very similar to the themes Johnson and his staff used with upperclassmen last year during Spring Practice.

The players quickly learned of Johnson’s expectations with practice. On several occasions during an array of stretching, running and flexibility drills that opened practice, Johnson halted activities, unsatisfied with the players’ attention to detail. “Guys, you need to learn to do these things the right way, and do them with enthusiasm,” he said.

After practice, while talking to the team, he reiterated his expectations. “We want a drill executed exactly the way the coach says to do it. When you come back this afternoon, you need to be much sharper, and much more detail-oriented,” Johnson said.

The freshmen and walk-ons are scheduled to return to the practice field Wednesday afternoon, and faces two practices Thursday (9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.) before Commodore upperclassmen report Friday. The first full-squad practice is Saturday afternoon. Dore Jam, the Commodores’ spruced-up Field Day with numerous activities for the entire family, is scheduled Sunday afternoon.

The practice featured 14 five-minute sessions, ranging from conditioning and position instruction to passing drills and non-tackle 11-on-11 drills. The squad practiced in shorts, pads and helmets.

Afterward, Johnson termed the session “productive,” saying his staff “threw quite a bit” at the players. “This is a transition period for each of them, getting used to the expectations. There is just a lot more thrown at him at this level than at high school.”

Christening the AstroPlay Surface
Before practice, Coach Johnson told the team to “enjoy the privilege” of being the first Commodores to utilize the cushioned, state-of-the-art AstroPlay synthetic surface that was constructed this summer for the football squad. Crews finished the surface less than a week ago.

Johnson plans to keep the team off the 80-yard natural grass surface that adjoins the AstroPlay surface until next week.

Ideal Weather
The newcomers practiced in ideal conditions, with temperatures hovering near 75 degrees for much of the session. The mild temperatures follow on the heels of a 10-day strifling heat spell in Middle Tennessee.

The coaching staff took full advantage of the conditions, stretching the practice 20 minutes longer than expected. The team used the extra time to work on offensive and defensive alignments and 11-on-11 non-contact drills.

Walk-ons in Camp
Fullback Clark Lea (Nashville), cornerback Quinton Shambley (Springfield, Ill.) and linebacker Scott Bridgman (Wilmette, Ill.) were among the walk-ons who were impressive in limited work. The other walk-ons in camp are quarterback Jason Burns of New Orleans, safety Giovanni Seretti of Los Angeles, and kicker Tolga Ertugrul of Bixby, Okla.


Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)