Commodores Get Back To Work Tuesday; Non-tackling Practice Features Plenty of Hitting

On Campus in Nashville, Tenn. - For a non-tackling practice, Tuesday’s affair at the John Rich Complex offered a heavy dose of hitting.

Head Coach Bobby Johnson welcomed the team back from a week off with a two-hour session that included a lengthy 11-on-11 team drill, fundamental instruction, and a brief contact segment that may have produced the most enthusiastic hitting witnessed this spring by the Commodores.

“For a team coming back after a week off, I thought we were pretty effective,” Johnson said. “You worry about going backwards after your team has been on a break. We did not do that today. Instead, we got some pretty good things done.”

Shortly after the initial position drills, Johnson brought the team together for a 10-minute “gauntlet” session. In the drill, a player atttempts to reach the ball carrier only after getting through three blockers trying to make sure he is unsuccessful. The enthusiasm increased as Johnson announced each group of four players to participate in the drill. Every player that successfully reached the ball carrier was mobbed by his teammates. When the defender was stopped by an effective hit, the team converged on the successful blocker.

Several Commodores earned the praise of coaches and teammates in the drill, including junior TE Curtis Brancheau, sophomore DE Antoine Morgan, redshirt freshman CB Tim Miller, sophomore TE Dustin Dunning, redshirt freshman Blake Luker and sophomore LB Paul Meadows.

Booker, Davis Wear Gold Jerseys

Two sophomores, WR Erik Davis and DE Chris Booker, were recognized for their outstanding effort in the team’s last practice, a session on February 27 that included the team’s first scrimmage. They were wore the coveted gold jerseys Tuesday after being singled out at the start of practice by Coach Johnson.

During the Feb. 27 scrimmage, Davis caught two passes, including one for a touchdown. The enthusiastic Booker was one of the top defenders, recording two tackles and a quarterback sack.

Johnson Announces Brigham Departure

Just before the start of practice Tuesday, Coach Johnson announced that Grant Brigham, a freshman wide receiver/punt returner who played in eight games last year for the Vanderbilt Commodores, had decided to leave the squad for personal reasons.

Brigham had three receptions for 39 yards as a true freshman in 2002. He also had a team-high 11 punt returns for 47 yards. A native of Mountain Brook, Ala., Brigham missed four games last year due to a shoulder injury.

Twelve Seniors from 2002 Team Participate in Commodore Pro Timing Day Tuesday

Twelve seniors from the 2002 team, including five offensive starters and four defensive starters, performed a battery of speed, conditioning and agility skills in front of nearly 25 NFL scouts Tuesday as part of Vanderbilt’s Pro Timing Day.

Among the 2002 Commodore seniors attempting to increase their NFL Draft prospects were center Jamie Byrum, guard Jim May, tight end Tom Simone, receivers Dan Stricker and M.J. Garrett, defensive end Chuck Losey, linebackers Hunter Hillenmeyer and Brandon Walthour, defensive backs Rushen Jones, Mike Martin and Aaron McWhorter, and safety Justin Giboney. Two Commodores from the 2001 team, Antuian Bradford and Harold Lercius, also participated.

Another senior starter from the 2002 team, safety Jonathan Shaub, watched the activities. An honors student who will graduate in May, Shaub plans a different direction with his life. This fall, he will travel to the Ukraine and teach an English course while learning the Russian language.

The Commodores’ Upcoming Schedule

Barring inclement weather, the Commodores will practice daily through Saturday. The weekday practices will start at 4:00 p.m., on the Rich Complex practice fields. The Saturday session is expected to start at 9:30 a.m., in Vanderbilt Stadium. The practices are open to the public.



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