Tim Fugger (VM/Stan Jones)
Deciding who the starters are for the defensive end position won't be near as easy for new Commodore defensive line coach Sean Spencer as it will be for the defensive tackle position. While Spencer gets two proven starters back at defensive tackle, things are not as stable at defensive end. VandyMania.com will now preview the Vanderbilt defensive end position.
Last season the Vanderbilt defensive end position was a disappointment to say the least. Vanderbilt lost Steven Stone and Broderick Stewart after the 2009 season and things just weren't the same. The good news is that Tim Fugger, who was a bright spot at the defensive end position, returns for his senior season along with several redshirt freshmen and other players who can make the end position a more solid part of the Vanderbilt team. The defensive tackle position should also be in better shape this season which should help the end position to make more plays.
#42 Tim Fugger (6-4, 255 RS-Sr.)
#90 Walker May (6-4, 235 RS-So.)
#92 Kyle Woestmann (6-3, 245 RS-Fr.)
#98 Johnell Thomas (6-0, 250 R-Jr.)
Players to watch:
#96 Thomas Ryan (6-3, 235 RS-Fr.)
#99 Thad McHaney (6-5, 250 RS-So.)
#18 Dexter Daniels (6-1, 240 R-Jr.)
Conor Hart (6-3, 250 Fr.)
Dillon van der Wal (6-7, 235 Fr.)
Jimmy Stewart (6-4, 210 Fr.)
Tim Fugger (photo at right by Don Yates) has been steady player for Vanderbilt since arriving in Nashville in 2007. When he first committed to Vanderbilt it was thought he might be the next great H-Back at Vandy in the mold of Steven Bright. However, he quickly settled in at defensive end where he has prospered. Fugger, whose only other offer other than Vanderbilt came from Akron, turned out to be a hidden gem for the Commodore staff. He's a playmaker on defense that can knock the dog snot out of you. Last season he played in every game and started 10 contests picking up 22 tackles, three sacks and an impressive four forced fumbles. Look for him to start in 2011 too.
Walker May (photo at left by Don Yates) has the speed and tenacity reminiscent of VU sack specialist Broderick Stewart. May came into his own during the 2010 season picking up 29 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks. May saw action in seven games and started the Florida game. However, a leg injury sustained against the Gators cut short May's season. May, who had 15 sacks as a senior at Briarwood Christian High School in Alabama, has the frame and quickness to be a beast of a defensive end. May has added about 25 pounds of weight since coming to Vandy. If he can add another 10-15 more pounds of muscle he could be unstoppable. He's a likely starter in 2011 but could be pushed by players like Kyle Woestmann or Johnell Thomas. If he doesn't start you can bet he'll be utilized extensively in passing situations.
Kyle Woestmann (photo at right by Eric Single) was the sixth commit of the very solid 2010 Commodore recruiting class. He was redshirted last season so he has a full four seasons of eligibility remaining which is good news for James Franklin's staff. Woestmann was a heavily recruited player out of high school and turned down the likes of South Carolina, Stanford, Clemson, Purdue and home state Georgia in order to be a Commodore. Woestmann's weapons are his size, strength and motor. He demonstrated his abilities in the Black & Gold game when he terrorized now former Vanderbilt quarterback Charlie Goro, sacking him and picking off a pass. Woestmann finished the scrimmage with four tackles. Look for Woestmann to play extensively in 2011 and possibly work his way into the starting lineup.
Johnell Thomas (photo at left by Stan Jones) was a late commit for the 2008 Commodore recruiting class. Thomas played in all 12 games in 2010 and started the Florida game. He finished the season with 22 tackles, 4 tackles for losses and 1 1/2 sacks. Johnell is a strong, run stopper type of player who can physical his way past offensive linemen. As a senior at Boone High School in Florida Thomas had 115 tackles and five sacks earning All-State and All-Central Florida honors. Thomas had a sack and another tackle for loss in the Commodore spring game. He could work his way into the starting lineup.
Thomas Ryan (photo at right by Don Yates) is another excellent player that signed with Vanderbilt in 2010 but was redshirted. Ryan had 10 sacks as a senior in high school and was twice selected All-State in Florida. Starring at Marathon High School, he was selected to play in the USA vs. World game and played really well, picking up a sack and recovering a fumble. He's got a motor like Woestmann and is very coachable. He should see playing time in 2011.
Thad McHaney (photo at left by Stan Jones) was one of the biggest commits of the 2009 recruiting class. He created quite a stir when he decommitted from Ole Miss to be a Commodore. However, McHaney's been slowed by a leg ailment which has limited his playing time. Last year he did get into five games late in the season, picking up a tackle for a loss at Kentucky. If the former Brentwood Academy star can get over the leg issue he can develop into a force at defensive end.
Dexter Daniels (photo at right by Stan Jones) was moved from linebacker to defensive end during the spring. He'll give Vandy another really fast end for passing situations and will improve the depth at end. The move should be good for Daniels who has played rather sparingly since coming to Vandy. He has just 11 career tackles and none for losses since coming to Nashville from Brantley High School in Alabama where he a Lineman of the Year awardee.
Incoming freshmen Conor Hart, Dillon van der Wal and Jimmy Stewart all will make their cases for playing time in the fall. Van der Wal in particular was a highly regarded defensive end in high school. Stewart will likely need a redshirt year to put on weight and build strength.
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