The Vanderbilt defense suffered another setback when likely starter Theron Kadri decided to leave school for personal reasons.
Kadri, a 6'4", 250 pound defensive end from Brighton, Tennessee, had 19 tackles in 11 games last season.
This leaves the Commodores very thin at the position, as original starter Steven Stone broke his right foot and is out for six weeks.
With the injury to Stone, Kadri was going to see a larger role on game day. Kadri was a key part of a rotation that included Tim Fugger, Teriall Brannon, and Johnell Thomas.
It is not known if Kadri will transfer to a new school to play football yet.
"Coach Johnson said that when one door shuts, it means another one opens," said Fugger. "It's going to be tougher, but it's going to give some of the young guys a better chance."
"The younger guys have been having a good camp," Brannon said. "They started off pretty slow, but once they got comfortable with the system they can close ranks. We're not dropping off in talent level."
Stone is due back by October. That could still mean four games missed. Until that time, the Commodores will rely heavily on the other starter, Broderick Stewart.
The senior is working to regain all of his quickness after suffering a broken leg against Tennessee last year.
If Stewart can return to form, he will have a shot at Vanderbilt's career sacks record (21-and-a-half) held by Alan Young (1989-93). His five sacks last year gave him 16.
"In the SEC, we're all about speed," Stewart said. "Faster receivers mean you've got less time for them to complete the route and for the ball to get out of there. Speed off the edge definitely helps in getting to the quarterback and pressure up the middle complements it."
Brannon can count on plenty of playing time, regardless of whether he starts.
He said defensive line coach Rick Logo has instructed the ends to keep their sack totals up by beating offensive tackles with their feet, not strength.
Quotes in this piece were taken from an article published in the Tennessean.
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