Here's Vanderbilt football's depth chart for the opening game against Hawaii

Aria Gerson
Nashville Tennessean

Vanderbilt football released its first depth chart of the season Tuesday for its season opener Saturday at Hawaii. Here's who is starting at every position:

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The starter: Mike Wright, Jr.

The reserves: AJ Swann, Fr.; Ken Seals, Jr.

Wright was named the starter at SEC Media Days. But in a surprising move, Swann earned the backup job over the incumbent Seals. Seals largely did well in the preseason, but Swann has higher upside and seems to be the quarterback of the future. He throws a pretty deep ball but the decision-making has to improve.

Running back

The starter: Ray Davis, Sr.

The reserves: Patrick Smith, So.; Rocko Griffin, Jr.

Finally back from an injury suffered last September, Davis could be a difference maker. Griffin was the starter over Smith last season, but Smith has passed Griffin as the second option.

Wide receiver

The starters: Will Sheppard, Jr.; Quincy Skinner, So.; Jayden McGowan, Fr. or Devin Boddie, Sr.

The reserves: Logan Kyle, Jr.; Wilson Long, Jr.

Sheppard and Skinner were named starters, while the battle between McGowan and Boddie in the slot will seemingly carry over into the regular season. It's likely that all the receivers on the depth chart will see time, unlike last year when the Commodores leaned heavily on their three starters.

Tight end

The starters: Ben Bresnahan, R-Sr.; Gavin Schoenwald, R-Sr.

The reserves: Justin Ball, Sr.; Joel DeCoursey, Sr.

Vanderbilt listed Bresnahan and Ball as traditional tight ends and Schoenwald and DeCoursey as "flex" tight ends who could play a variety of different roles. Bresnahan should be the go-to guy, but he and Schoenwald should play together a lot.

Offensive line

The starters: Gunnar Hansen, So.; Ben Cox, Jr.; Julian Hernandez, Sr.; Xavier Castillo, So.; Bradley Ashmore, Jr.

The reserves: Junior Uzebu, Sr.; Gage Pitchford, So.; Jake Ketschek, So.; Jacob Brammer, R-Sr.

Vanderbilt has long said it has a rotation of eight to nine players it wants to play, and that's exactly what the depth chart shows. Ashmore, the starting right tackle, is also listed as backup at right guard with Brammer potentially sliding to right tackle.


Defensive end

The starter: Nate Clifton, Sr.

The reserve: Elijah McAllister, R-Sr.

McAllister started last year but hasn't really produced. He's been passed up by others. Clifton had a strong summer.

Defensive tackle

The starter: Christian James, Sr.

The reserves: Myles Cecil, R-Sr.; Michael Spencer, Jr.

James earned the starting job over Cecil, a Cal Poly transfer, after missing time with an injury. Daevion Davis isn't back yet from a torn ACL suffered last season, but he should be able to return sometime during the season and could figure into the depth chart once he does.

Nose tackle

The starter: Malik Langham, R-Sr. 

The reserve: Kevo Wesley, Jr.

Langham hasn't produced much in prior seasons, but after bulking up to 300 pounds he could be a big disruptor. Wesley moved to nose tackle after spending time as an offensive lineman last season.

Star (DE/LB)

The starter: Michael Owusu, R-Sr.

The reserves: Darren Agu, Fr.; BJ Diakite, Fr.

In Lea's system, "star" is the position often known as "edge," a versatile pass-rusher that can play as a defensive end or linebacker. Miles Capers likely would've been the starter here but suffered a season-ending injury in preseason. Thus, the freshmen are going to have to step up right away.


The starters: Anfernee Orji, Sr.; Ethan Barr, Jr. or Kane Patterson, Sr.

The reserve: Errington Truesdell, So.

Orji might be the best player on the team. Barr and Patterson are a high-level pairing at the MIKE linebacker spot; Barr has limited athleticism but is smart and fundamentally sound, while Patterson has experience at a winning program in Clemson. Both should play a lot. 


The starter: De'Rickey Wright, Jr.

The reserve: CJ Taylor, So.

Another hybrid position, the anchor is a linebacker/safety spot. Wright got a lot of run here last season and has a lot of upside.


The starters: BJ Anderson, R-Sr.; Tyson Russell, So.

The reserves: Jeremy Lucien, R-Sr.; Justin Harris, Sr.; Trudell Berry, Fr.; Jeffrey Ugochukwu, Fr.

Anderson earned the starting spot over Lucien, the transfer from UConn, after a strong preseason. His development has been disrupted by injuries, but he's showing out now that he's finally healthy. This is another spot where freshmen could get some run.


The starters: Maxwell Worship, R-Sr.; Jaylen Mahoney, Sr.

The reserves: John Howse, So.; Steven Sannieniola, Fr.; Marlen Sewell, So.; Chase Lloyd, Jr.

This position is loaded with experience as Worship and Mahoney are both returning starters, though Mahoney is at a new position after moving from cornerback in the spring. Mahoney could also play nickel in some looks.

Special teams


The starter: Joseph Bulovas, R-Sr.

The backup: Will Faris, So.

Bulovas made game-winning kicks in both the Commodores' wins last season.


The starter: Matt Hayball, R-Sr.

The backup: Jared Wheatley, Sr.

Hayball, a transfer from Florida Atlantic, has shown off his big leg in practice.

Kick returner

The starter: McGowan.

The reserve: Davis

Punt returner

The starter: Sheppard

The reserve: McGowan

McGowan, Sheppard and Davis have been the three primary returners in practice for the entirety of the preseason. While using starters at other positions in return spots is controversial, Vanderbilt doesn't have the depth to use anyone else.

Aria Gerson covers Vanderbilt athletics for The Tennessean. Contact her at or on Twitter @aria_gerson.