Only five Vanderbilt players have jersey numbers

Adam Luckett2 months


Aritcle written by:Adam LuckettAdam Luckett


The hire of Clark Lea made a lot of sense for Vanderbilt. The Nashville native played his college ball for the Commodores before going on to work at UCLA, Wake Forest, and Notre Dame. After Mike Elko left for Texas A&M, Lea became the defensive coordinator in South Bend and did a terrific job under Brian Kelly. Now the 38-year-old has a tall task ahead attempting to make Vanderbilt football relevant again. He's is going about this rebuild with an interesting strategy. With the start of the season just six weeks away, only five Vanderbilt football players have earned their numbers for the 2021 season. This is certainly an interesting motivation tactic. "We are connected by chance, not so much by choice," Lea told reporters at SEC Media Days. "So necessarily there's a need for process to alignment. That's important because, to us, being a team isn't about the accumulation of talent. That's a part of it. But for us it's more defined in what each team member is willing to do for the next. What's the level of investment in each other, what's the level of care in each other, how do you add value to the experience of your teammate? Those are the things that we look at." There is no hiding from the fact that a year zero is coming to the West End. Vanderbilt currently has the worst roster in the SEC and an influx of talent and stability on both sides of the football is needed in Nashville. The players seem to be having some fun with it. "I think the O-line and quarterbacks hated it all spring because they couldn't ID anybody," said defensive lineman Daevion Davis."We were having fun with it. We were kicking their tails. They were just trying to figure out who's who, but at the end of the day, we knew who everybody was. No number, but you had your last name on the back of the jersey. You knew somebody's face, and it's football, so see ball, get ball." There is no doubt that this is something that Vanderbilt will take some slack for in the media. This is a tactic that is very high school, but Lea and his staff are trying to build something unique in Nashville. The players seem to be all in on the new way of thinking at the high-end academic institution. We'll see if it pays off if 2021 turns into another rough season. "We don't apologize for being Vanderbilt," said Lea. "It's not -- I mean, our expectation is to win. Hey, look, everything takes time to build to its potential, but smart people figure things out. So we're going to grip the bat and take our swing for the fences, and we're very proud of what we represent, and we're proud of what we're going to sustain over time at Vanderbilt."

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