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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Press Conference Notes: Clark Lea names captains, starting quarterback

With his tenure officially set to begin on Saturday, Clark Lea met with the media on Tuesday to discuss his team’s game week preparation and name his starting quarterback.
Vanderbilt+begins+its+season+this+Saturday+against+ETSU+at+home.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29.
Vanderbilt begins its season this Saturday against ETSU at home. (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Football is finally back on West End as the Vanderbilt Commodores look to turn the page on a bleak 2020 campaign and enter a new era under head coach Clark Lea. After a long summer of workouts and practices, Lea met with the media on Tuesday to express his team’s excitement.

“It’s thrilling to take this team into competition against another opponent,” Lea said. “It will be surreal as those gold helmets are lined up in the tunnel ready to take the field. I know we will have a lot of energy and enthusiasm behind our play on Saturday.”

With just four days until kickoff, the team’s rigorous quarterback battle appears to have come to an end. Lea named sophomore Ken Seals the week one starter over fellow sophomore Mike Wright. Seals comes off of a freshman season that saw him start all nine games and complete nearly 65 percent of his passes for 1,928 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

“Both Ken Seals and Mike Wright had great camps. We are proud of both of those guys. I felt like it was important for our team heading into game one to have some clarity in that position,” Lea said. “Both quarterbacks will play. Mike Wright is one of our best 11 [players] on offense. He is a super talented person and player and we are anxious to see what kind of role he can carve out.”

Wright, who demonstrated his speed and creativeness in red zone situations last season, figures to also find snaps as soon as the first half this weekend. The speedy sophomore scored two regular season touchdowns last year before erupting for a massive spring game performance in April.

“Mike has earned the right to play snaps not relegated to a zone or situation. We want to see him get out there and lead the offense,” Lea said. “We will get him out there early in the game Saturday and see how things take shape around him.”

In addition to announcing his starting quarterback, the new head coach also named his captains for the upcoming 2021 season.

“We had our team vote for captains over the weekend and I am very proud to announce that Daevion Davis and Elijah McAllister will be representing Team One in this 2021 season as captains,” Lea explained.

Both Davis and McAlister figure to be forces for the Commodore defense. Davis, a junior, was one of two player representatives for Lea this year at SEC Media Days in July and is expected to be a producer on a Commodore defensive interior that lost Dayo Odeyingbo and Andre Mintze to the NFL. On the outside, McAllister, a senior edge-rusher who missed last season with an injury, returns this year to play Vanderbilt’s star position in defensive coordinator Jess Minter’s 4-2-5 defense.

Lea also noted his institution of a leadership council responsible for helping the new head coach grow the Vanderbilt program. That group of player representatives includes Ken Seals, Mike Wright, Anfernee Orji, Dashaun Jerkins, Cam Johnson, Bradley Ashmore, Michael Warden and Harrison Smith.

“The players are ecstatic. They feel like they have been working hard over the past eight months to get to this point. To be finally here, it’s quite the moment,” Lea said.

East Tennessee State will be Lea’s first regular season opponent. A familiar foe, the Buccaneers made the short journey to Vanderbilt Stadium two years ago and were defeated 38-0 by a 3-9 Commodore squad. While Vanderbilt figures to be the heavy favorite, Lea emphasized that his team’s performance would not only be measured by a victory, but by execution.

“We are going to really have to have a heightened focus on our execution and an awareness of the things we have to do on our end to have access to a winning outcome,” Lea said. “There will be a lot of learning from the first snap to the last but it’s all stuff we are excited for.”

The Commodores and Buccaneers will kick things off at 7 p.m. CDT from Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday.

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About the Contributor
Justin Hershey, Former Sports Editor
Justin Hershey ('22) was Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He has been on staff since freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Deputy Sports Editor and Lead Sports Analyst. He majored in human and organizational development with minors in business and economics. In addition to writing, he hosts The Hustler Sports 30 Podcast, enjoys playing golf and is waiting for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers to complete The Process. For tips and comments, feel free to reach out to: [email protected]    
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Amy Smith
2 years ago

So excited for the Leadership Team!! ANCHOR DOWN!!