Brotherhood in the Backfield

New Vandy assistant focused on getting best out of running backs

by Chad Bishop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — New Vanderbilt running backs coach Jayden Everett really only has one consistent message to his position group this spring.

“Band of brothers. That’s kind of what we talk about, stemming from some of our covenants. It’s a true brotherhood. It’s directly from that,” Everett said after Tuesday morning’s practice, the fourth of the spring for the Commodores. “I believe everything that we do is going to be for each other. It’s not about one guy, it’s not about our accolades, we’re going to let our hard work define the accolades.

“Make it about your brother, have it be a band of brothers and we’ll let everything else sort of phase out where it does.”

Everett joined the Vandy coaching staff earlier this year after two seasons at Tulsa, 12 seasons total coaching ball and a playing career as a standout linebacker at Indiana State. The Kansan is hopeful he’ll be witness to, and part of, a Vanderbilt football turnaround akin to the one he witnessed while coaching his alma mater from 2013-16.

The Sycamores were 1-11 in 2013 then 8-6 a season later where they advanced to the second round of the FCS Playoffs.

“Seeing what coach (Clark) Lea has built over the years—being in the same shoes, I was a coach at my alma mater before. We weren’t the best, but I helped my team get over the hump,” Everett said. “Whenever you have the chance to do that you kind of know what it feels like to have Year 1, Year 2 and then be a part of the third year where you’re ready for the return from all your hard work.”

Everett currently has a relatively small group of running backs to work with this spring. Five Commodores play the position right now led by returners Patrick Smith and Chase Gillespie. True freshman Sedrick Alexander enrolled in January and Vandy signed Deago Benson and AJ Newberry in December.

Those backs and Everett will also be working with the newly-hired Josh Adams who is serving in a quality control role. Adams is a former Notre Dame running back and had stints in the NFL with Philadelphia, the New York Jets and New Orleans.

He and Everett will be focused over the next few weeks of the spring and the summer months in creating a cohesive and production backfield.

“We’ve got five guys and, honestly, I’m pleased to have those guys in our backfield. They do a really, really good job of playing off of each other,” Everett said. “That’s one of the things that when I was able to get the job and meet with those young men, it was back by committee. Our strength is in the numbers of this group and each one of these guys has their own style and I think that we’re trying to do a good job of just letting those guys play off of each other in situational segments and situational football.

“It may seem like we’ve only got five, but in those guys it is strength in numbers. Everyone of those guys will jump in and do a job at whatever it is.”

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for
Follow him @MrChadBishop.