Tailback Norval McKenzie Gets Okay for Full Contact As ’Dores Open Second Half of Spring Practice Tuesday 3/10/03

On Campus in Nashville, Tenn. - When the Commodores open the second half of Spring Practice Tuesday at the John Rich Complex, tailback Norval McKenzie is expected to see live contact for the first time in nearly six months, a sight sure to please the junior’s teammates and coaches.

Head Coach Bobby Johnson announced Monday that McKenzie, an early season starter last year, will be cleared for full contact when the Commodores return to the practice field Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.

McKenzie’s healthy return would provide added punch to a Commodore offense that features three sophomore starters from a year ago - tailback Kwane Doster, fullback Matthew Tant and quarterback Jay Cutler.

A year ago, McKenzie was developing into one of the Southeastern Conference’s top backs when he suffered a season-ending lower leg fracture at practice just days before the Commodores’ game versus Middle Tennessee. At the time, McKenzie was the Vanderbilt’s leading rusher with 326 yards and second in the SEC with a 7.8-yard average.

“Norval has worked extremely hard to get back to where he is today. His return is certainly going to help our football team,” Johnson said. “His effort to recover is an inspiration to everyone associated with this team. I’m very happy for Norval and pleased to have him back.”

McKenzie is one of several Commodores expected to see more contact when the Commodores return to the practice field Tuesday after taking a week off for Spring Break. Junior center Jordan Pettit, sophomore linebacker Moses Osemwegie and defensive end Chris Booker are expected to increase their activity as the Black & Gold Scrimmage approaches.

Secondary’s Early Spring Effort Pleases Head Coach

Through the first six days of Spring Practice, no unit has pleased Johnson’s staff more than the youthful prospects that will make up the Commodore defensive secondary. The team entered spring searching for replacements at both safety positions and a cornerback role.

Sophomores Dominique Morris and Cheron Thompson, junior Lorenzo Parker and transfer Bill Alford each contributed big plays during the Commodores’ last scrimmage. Several safety prospects, including sophomores Andrew Pace and Kelechi Ohanaja, also have made plays to impress the staff.

“As a whole, the secondary has been solid. They have been more consistent in carrying out their assignments. That is the first step to getting better,” Johnson said.

The Commodores’ Upcoming Schedule

Barring inclement weather, the Commodores are scheduled to practice daily through Saturday. The team will attempt to stage eight practice sessions before the Black & Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, March 22. The Spring’s featured attraction is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m., in Vanderbilt Stadium. It should conclude just before the Commodore baseball hosts the Ole Miss Rebels next at the adjoining Hawkins Field.

The Commodore spring football practices are open to the public unless otherwise noted.



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