NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While Vanderbilt had a solidified go-to wide receiver on its 2019 team, there’s a case to be made that the 2020 squad will look to a host of talented wideouts – both young and old – to make the majority of big plays this season.
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason indicated as much Tuesday after the Commodores’ morning practice as the team’s receivers continue to develop their respective roles.
“As I’m starting to see this group work together more, the quarterbacks are starting to get comfortable with how these guys run routes, their speed and tempo, who’s a long-ball guy, who’s a matchup problem,” he said. “The great thing about what (Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Todd) Fitch has done is he’s been able to look at our scheme and put these guys in position to get the ball.”
In terms of production, redshirt sophomore Cam Johnson and senior Chris Pierce are Vandy’s top two returning receivers from a year ago. Johnson, from Brentwood Academy, had 30 grabs for more than 300 yards in 2019 while Pierce averaged 17.5 yards per catch.
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) August 30, 2020
Behind that duo is a solid grouping of redshirt junior James Bostic, Oklahoma State transfer and redshirt senior Tyrell Alexander and Amir Abdur-Rahman (who missed 2019 due to injury). Mason also highlighted true freshmen Will Sheppard and Logan Kyle and redshirt freshmen Jayden Harrison and Devin Boddie.
Veteran coach Tony Ball joined the program this offseason to coach up those wide receivers to the best of their abilities.
“Everybody wants the ball, but it order to get the ball you’ve got to get open,” Mason said. “Coach Ball does a great job of tightening technique. I think all these guys can run, they got great hands – and they can win the one-on-one.”
A Terrific Tuesday
Mason said he was pleased with the way his team hit the practice field Tuesday morning and complimented the Commodores’ energy and focus.
“We got better today, all the way around,” he said. “I challenged these guys to be better in all phases – whether it was special teams, individual or our competitive periods.
“It was the first time we got to see guys truly pop each other a little bit. There was some give and take, I saw the line of scrimmage move on both sides and it was really a good day. The game starts up front and that’s where we want to see it. Since the game was good there it sort of permeated toward everything that we did.”
Vandy is scheduled to return to practice Thursday morning.
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.