VU linebacker in position to make himself known

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 6:00pm
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TRICE

He’s never started a game in college and he switched positions after two seasons, all of which means Brent Trice has not exactly made a name for himself in the Southeastern Conference or the college football world as a whole.

The same cannot be said when it comes to Vanderbilt’s football team, particularly the offense.

“When I get out there, they’re hollering, ‘Trice!’” he said. “They know what’s up. I’m trying to make something happen to get us hyped.

“I try to show up every play.”

While it’s not likely he will stand out on each snap during the course of the coming season, those who watch Vanderbilt will see the senior from Orange, Va., on the field much more than in the previous three years.

The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder looks to have landed the starting job as the strongside linebacker in the Commodores’ base 4-3 defense. He also will have a role in some of the nickel packages – either as a linebacker or cornerback – and will play a lot on special teams.

The prevailing theory around the locker room is that it won’t take long opposing teams to take notice of him.

“He can pretty much play all over the field so he’s kind of a hassle for offenses to game-plan against because of his versatility,” linebacker Patrick Benoist said. “… He can drop back in coverage and play man-to-man against a lot of slot receivers and he can also rush the passer as well as anyone.”

Trice certainly was impossible for coaches to ignore when he arrived on campus in 2006 out of Fork Union Military Academy. He played in every game as a true freshman and all but one as a sophomore, when he was a special teams contributor and backup safety.

Last season he switched to linebacker and again appeared in every contest. There, he set career-highs for tackles (22), sacks (2.5), passes broken up (three) and forced fumbles (one).

“I used to play strong safety, and we usually drop the strong safety in the box,” Trice said. “Basically, it’s kind of the same thing, I’m just closer to the ball. I’m pretty aggressive, so I guess it’s a good fit for me.”

This season he has moved once again – to the top of the depth chart.

“I don’t think it was a very tough transition for him,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “He’s big enough that I think he can handle the toughness part of it. He did stuff at safety that the nickel back does, so that part of it is not foreign.

“Being that versatile and performing well – he’s not only versatile, he performs well – he’ll see a lot of playing time.”

BRIEFLY

• Linebacker Chris Marve, Vanderbilt’s second-leading tackler in 2008, spent most of Tuesday’s workout in the training tent with an ice bag on his right ankle. Afterward, Johnson said it was nothing serious.

“He tweaked his ankle a little bit early in practice, so we just kept him out so there wasn’t any danger of it getting any worse,” Johnson said.

• Classes start Wednesday at Vanderbilt, a fact that was prominently mentioned throughout Tuesday.

“(I mentioned it) this morning at the team meeting, every time I see them in the hall, right before and right after practice,” Johnson said.