<
>

Spring shoes to fill: Vanderbilt

Seeing a Vanderbilt defense without Chris Marve in the middle at linebacker will be weird, but the Commodores will have to get used to life without him next season.

OUT: LB Chris Marve. From the time he was a redshirt freshman, Marve has been a force in that Vanderbilt defense. He produced on the field and off the field and was one of those leaders that nobody questioned. He led the Commodores with 91 total tackles last season, including 8.5 for loss. Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said one of the reasons the Commodores were so good on defense in his first season was because Marve bought into Shoop, which filtered down to the rest of the players on defense. Any time the Commodores were tweaking things on defense, Shoop said all he had to do was tell Marve what he wanted and that Marve would see to it on the practice field that the Commodores got it down. Marve finished with 80 or more tackles in all four of his seasons and was a three-time All-SEC selection.

IN: Chase Garnham. Despite a lingering groin injury that kept him out of three full games and parts of two others, Garnham put together a stellar sophomore season last year. He finished with 51 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss, but moves over from his outside linebacker spot to the middle. Having played alongside Marve last season, Garnham made sure he picked up as many pointers as possible, and the Vanderbilt coaches have been very pleased with the way Garnham has performed in the middle this spring. He's smart, instinctive and a sure tackler. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Garnham is also an excellent athlete and has been timed as fast as 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. Nobody expects Garnham to step right in and be the heartbeat of the defense the way Marve was for the past three seasons, but Garnham has everything it takes to be a very productive middle linebacker in this league.