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With QB Jordan Rodgers gone, who will be the next Vandy QB?
Last season, James Franklin led the Commodores to their greatest season in the program's history.
Likely to begin the upcoming season ranked in the Top 25, Franklin probably faces the greatest challenges of any SEC coach this spring. He has brought the program out of the darkness and into the national spotlight, but he loses a whole lot of starters from the 2012 squad.
On offense, QB Jordan Rodgers, RB Zac Stacy and OGs Josh Jelesky and Ryan Seymour are gone.
On defense, the situation is even worse as three defensive linemen (DE Johnell Thomas and DTs Colt Nichter and Rob Lohr), a linebacker (Archibald Barnes) and a safety (Trey Wilson) have departed.
Noting the absences at these various positions on both sides of the ball, Franklin will be challenged to evaluate which of his players may be ready to start in the fall. It's a tall order to replace so many key contributors, but Franklin is fully capable of meeting the challenge.
Possibly the biggest question entering spring is who will lead Vandy's offense next season?
The obvious choice would be senior Austyn Carta-Samuels, a one time quarterback for the Wyoming Cowboys. The 2009 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year gained nearly two full seasons of college football experience while at Wyoming, and he was the top reserve for James Franklin in 2012. However, redshirt freshman Patton Robinette is sure to provide quality competition for the starting nod.
At running back, Vandy must replace the talented Zac Stacy. Fortunately, true freshman Brian Kimbrow carried the ball 66 times for 413 yards last season and three touchdowns. This spring, all eyes will be on Kimbrow to pick up the load that Stacy was responsible for last season.
It's going to be a busy spring for James Franklin as he looks to put together many missing pieces.
Moving past spring, he may even be able to use some true freshmen from his No. 22 recruiting class (ESPN) this summer. Hoping for another great season in Nashville, I think it's safe to assume the head coach will take a look at every option on the table before the fall.