Coach Johnson Sees More Improvement Friday; Looks Forward to Seeing Full Squad Saturday 8/9/02

Day 3 of Preseason Drills at Vanderbilt - Head Coach Bobby Johnson left the McGugin Practice Facility Friday morning pleased with the continuing progress of his freshmen and eager to have Commodore upperclassmen report this afternoon in preparation for the first full-squad practice Saturday afternoon.

The newcomers’ practice Friday - the fifth of the preseason - was an efficient 90-minute workout, featuring individual position techniques, one-on-one line work, and team passing drills. Both coaches and players were upbeat as they left the practice field.

“We were much better today. The guys were much more attentive to what they were doing. You really like to see the ones that take to the coaching,” Johnson said.

The coach declined to identify which of the 21 freshmen and six invited walk-ons made the biggest impression to the coaches, saying only that the players made a great deal of progress in the three days of work.

“It’s too early to say this guy or that guy was effective, but overall, we had a good number of guys that impressed us over the past three days. I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform when everyone is in camp,” Johnson said.

Johnson is about to get his wish. All upperclassmen are expected to report to campus this afternoon, with a team meeting scheduled Friday night. Many of the veterans will go through a conditioning session early Saturday before the team gathers for its first full-squad practice at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. The public is invited to the practice.

Shaved Heads On the Front Line
Several of the Commodore veteran offensive linemen will appear for their first practice Saturday sporting a new look - shaved heads. Senior guard Jim May said fellow senior and captain, Jamie Byrum, was to blame.

“I don’t really care how I look ... I’m just ready to get back at it,” May said. “A bunch of the O-line guys shaved their heads. It was all Byrum’s idea. It doesn’t matter to Jamie, he’s already losing his hair.”

AD Turner drops in on Practice
Vanderbilt Director of Athletics Todd Turner watched much of the practice while keeping an eye on the neighboring natural grassfield as maintenance crews spray painted the 90-yard surface at McGugin Practice Facility.

The team is expected to christen the grass surface next week during full-squad two-a-days. The university applied Tift 419 bermuda grass to the practice field and on the Dudley Field surface in Vanderbilt Stadium just two months ago. For the first time in three years, the coaches will have the options of practicing on either natural grass or a cushioned AstroPlay synthetic surface. Both surfaces also feature new drainage systems.

Johnson Goes Shopping
Saturday Coach Johnson is expected to make an appearance Saturday afternoon at Sports Seasons in Nashville’s Lions Head Shopping Center. The coach will sign autographs and meet with Commodore fans at the store located off White Bridge Road from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Dore Jam Sunday
All fans (and soon-to-be fans) of Vanderbilt athletic teams are invited to attend Dore Jam Sunday afternoon at McGugin Practice Facility. The assortment of attractions - from interactive games and inflatable kids activities to free food and live music - should guarantee a good family outing.

Another free attraction for adults - general admission tickets to the home opener versus Furman Sept. 7 - also is available. The first 2,000 adults attending are eligible for two general admission tickets.

The event, scheduled from 4:00-6:00 p.m., also features coaches and student-athletes from several other Commodore programs, including baseball, golf, soccer and lacrosse.

A football highlight at Dore Jam are player and coach autographs and poster giveaways. On Sunday, team captains Jamie Byrum, Rushen Jones and Dan Stricker also are scheduled to display the team’s three new uniforms designed by Nike.

To accommodate kids activities and food booths, officials will close Natchez Trace between Blakemore Avenue and Jess Neely Drive. The parking lot off Natchez Trace directly across from McGugin Practice Facility will be available.


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