Today, we take a look at what should be the strongest and weakest positions for Vanderbilt entering the 2010 season:
Strongest position: Running back
Key departures: Jared Hawkins
The skinny: Norman returns after earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors last season. He led the Commodores with 783 rushing yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and tied an SEC record with three kickoffs returned for touchdowns. Stacy also had a solid debut season in the SEC despite battling an ankle injury for much of the year. Stacy wound up with 478 rushing yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Both players should be even better their second time around in the league and with a spring practice under their belts. Plus, the Commodores will add redshirt freshman Wesley Tate to the mix in 2010. He’s the younger brother of former Notre Dame star Golden Tate, and Vanderbilt would like to get him the ball in a number of different ways. It’s a running back stable that would have been even deeper had it not been for the tragic death of top signee Rajaan Bennett in February.
Weakest position: Wide receiver
Key departures: Alex Washington
The skinny: It’s not that the Commodores lost a bunch of talented guys at the receiver position. Rather, they remain extremely unproven, and it’s difficult to point to somebody on the roster right now and say, "This is the guy who’s going to scare SEC defenses down the field." Cole was the Commodores’ leading receiver a year ago with 36 catches for 382 yards. He’s tough, dependable and isn’t afraid to go get the ball. He simply doesn’t have a lot of help. Vanderbilt only had two touchdown receptions last season from its wide receivers. The staff is optimistic that Brady Brown will take a big step next season after playing early as a true freshman a year ago and then injuring his leg. The Commodores signed a pair of 6-4 freshmen – Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews – and they probably won't have to wait long to get on the field. It helps that the Commodores have two good tight ends in Austin Monahan and Brandon Barden, but they need to find more playmakers on the outside.