Carta-Samuels ready to take his shot

Even though senior Austyn Carta-Samuels has the inside track, Vanderbilt’s coaches want to see somebody go out and win the quarterback job this spring and/or preseason.

So far, it’s been an impressive start for Carta-Samuels, who’s competing with redshirt freshman Patton Robinette and sophomore Josh Grady for the job. True freshman Johnny McCrary is also on campus and going through spring drills.

Carta-Samuels, who served as Jordan Rodgers’ backup last season, has been sharp with his accuracy. He’s also looked good throwing the deep ball, and the Commodores certainly have a couple of guys in Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews who can get deep and go up over cornerbacks and make plays down the field.

Boyd is 6-4 and Matthews is 6-3. Matthews was second in the SEC last season with a school-record 1,323 receiving yards, and the two combined for 13 touchdown receptions.

“I think we’re going to be able to stretch the field vertically,” Carta-Samuels said. “That’s something we haven’t done as much in the past. People probably don’t know about Jonathan Krause like they do Jordan and Chris, but he can stretch the field, too, and really put the defense in a bind. That’s something I think I’ll be able to offer this offense.”

Carta-Samuels started for two years at Wyoming before transferring following the 2010 season. He has a big arm and is down to 215 after losing 10 pounds.

“I feel faster and quicker,” he said. “Losing that weight made my arm more fluid and flexible, and I can already tell a difference.”

One of the challenges for Carta-Samuels is becoming a better practice player. He said Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and this staff have helped him better understand the importance of practice.

“I’m approaching it day-by-day and getting better every day,” Carta-Samuels said. “Practice has to be as important as the games.”

It’s no accident that Carta-Samuels ended up at Vanderbilt. His grandfather, Tom Samuels, played baseball at Vanderbilt. Carta-Samuels was also recruited by the Commodores out of high school when Bobby Johnson was the coach, but said he never received a scholarship offer.

“My grandfather is a huge reason why I came here,” Carta-Samuels said. “He told me, ‘Vanderbilt changed my life, and I want it to change yours.’ Now that I’m here, it’s like all my dreams being fulfilled.”

He's not the last member of the family who will play for the Commodores. His younger brother, Kyle Carta-Samuels of San Jose, Calif., has already committed to Vanderbilt and plans to sign as part of the 2014 class. The younger Carta-Samuels is an ESPN Watch List prospect.