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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.

Vanderbilt releases Week 0 depth chart, names AJ Swann backup quarterback

Clark Lea released his first depth chart of the season, naming freshman AJ Swann backup quarterback over junior Ken Seals.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Linebacker Anfernee Orji at the first day of practice in Honolulu, Hawaii (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Clark Lea released his first depth chart of the season ahead of Saturday’s season opener against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. With fall camp wrapped up, the Commodores will use the week of game prep in Honolulu to make their final preparations to kick off the season on the right foot. 

Insert Swann

Earlier in the summer, Lea named Mike Wright as his unquestioned starting quarterback, after Vanderbilt saw extended summer camp battles at the position over the past three seasons. This announcement seemed to relegate Ken Seals—who started games in each of the past two seasons—to the still-ever-important backup quarterback spot. 

Insert AJ Swann

The four-star freshman quarterback out of Georgia apparently seized the opportunity over camp and will head into the season as Vanderbilt’s No. 2 at the most important position on the field. Swann was a late addition to the 2022 recruiting class, having flipped his commitment from Maryland in December 2021. Known for his explosive arm talent coming out of high school, Swann was rated as the third-highest recruit in the 2022, class per 247Sports

The Commodores will need the young buck to step up should Wright go down for any reason. While Swann lacks the game experience that Seals possesses, it is evident that the coaching staff believes he can put the team in a better position to win games in 2022 should Wright be sidelined. 

Capers out, Clifton in

Vanderbilt sustained a blow late last week when news emerged that redshirt freshman defensive lineman Miles Capers had suffered a season-ending injury. Throughout the spring and summer, Capers had emerged as a force on the Commodore defensive unit and was in line to start at the defensive end position. 

First-year defensive coordinator Nick Howell had to adjust on the fly and tabbed senior Nate Clifton to fill Capers’s absence. Clifton appeared in every game for the Commodores last season, starting 10 of them. 

The senior from nearby Brentwood Academy edged out captain Elijah McAllister, who will back him up on the edge after the staff experimented with moving him to the interior of the defensive line this spring and summer. The injury to Capers thins out depth along the line, so it will be vital for both Clifton and McAllister to rely on their experience to give the Commodores production on the edge. 

Freshman orientation

True freshmen from Vanderbilt’s highly ranked 2022 recruiting class are littered throughout the team’s initial depth chart. Swann is the headliner, but five other freshmen found their way onto the two-deep (in some cases, three-deep). 

Notably, Jayden McGowan is penciled in as a potential starter at the slot receiver position on offense. McGowan flashed his potential perhaps as much as any newcomer over the offseason, and his speed will add a dimension to the Vanderbilt offense that hasn’t existed in the past few seasons. 

The defense sports four true freshmen on the depth chart, reflecting Lea’s success on the 2022 recruiting trail on that side of the ball. The class’s highest rated recruit, Darren Agu, will back up Michael Owusu at STAR and could see some time at the defensive end spot as well after Capers’s injury. Agu is backed up at the STAR by fellow freshman BJ Diakate. 

In the secondary, Trudell Berry, Steven Sannioela and Jeffery Ugo all made their way onto the unit’s reserve spots. Berry and Ugo will serve as third-string options at each of the cornerback positions, while Sannieoela is in line to back up Maxwell Worship at safety. 

Freshman safety Ja’Dais Richard—the second highest rated recruit in the class—figures to have a significant role in the secondary as well, but has been sidelined by injury in camp. Lea and Howell elected to have senior captain Jaylen Mahoney for the time being.

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About the Contributor
Bryce Smith, Former Sports Editor
Bryce Smith ('23) is majoring in human and organizational development in Peabody College with a minor in business. Bryce previously wrote for SBNation before joining The Hustler. Hailing from Chicago, Bryce is a die-hard Bears and Cubs fan who is also hoping that the Bulls and Blackhawks may one day rekindle their dominance. He can be reached at [email protected].    
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