There is no question about Ryan Seymour's potential. As such, the third-year sophomore offers hope as he competes for a job as starting tackle on an offensive line filled with uncertainty.
Offensive line coach Herb Hand loves Seymour’s athletic ability. He has quick feet and at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds Seymour certainly has the size to produce at offensive line in the SEC.
“I told him the other day he has the world by the string because he has a lot of ability,” said Hand.” My job as a coach is to make him reach his potential. He’s been coachable and worked hard. I think his best football is in front of him because of his natural ability.”
Filling in for an injured Thomas Welch, Seymour started six games at left tackle last season. He also has experience at the position he defends against. Prior to 2009 Seymour played defensive tackle. He’s put on around thirty pounds since the position switch. Seymour feels his time on the defensive side of the line gives him a leg up as an offensive lineman.
“Being an athlete at defensive line I feel like playing offensive tackle was a good switch for me,” Seymour said. “I know every trick that the D-lineman is going to use on me and I know how to react to it and use my techniques to battle the guy in front of me.”
His athleticism allowed for the switch from defense and has been Seymour’s primary weapon at offensive tackle. But Hand explained how after a gifted athlete can get shell-shocked when faced equal or better athleticism across the line. Hand feels that fine-tuning his technique, and not wasting movements or steps, instead of relying on just athletic ability is the next piece for Seymour.
“He just needs to be a master of his technique, because he is very talented,” Hand remarked. “A lot of times when you have guys that are athletic they can take a misstep and overcome it because they are athletic. When all of the sudden you start playing in this conference, you can’t do that anymore.”
Seymour’s emergence this season would greatly aid a depleted Vanderbilt offensive line. Hand has to replace four starters. Only senior center Joey Bailey and junior guard Kyle Fischer are currently locked into starting roles. Though Seymour has game experience at left tackle Hand has been giving him reps lined up on the right side in practice to increase comfort level.
“I want to get those guys each a spot that they know they have down before I move them around a bit,” Hand explained. “Once they master their home base from a technique and scheme standpoint then I feel like I can try them out at guard or tackle or the other side.”
Head coach Robbie Caldwell has noted steady improvement in the offensive line since the start of fall practice. Hand said the group is starting to develop a unit identity. Seymour’s continued improvement will be essential to the line’s success this season. As a unit, Seymour is confident in the offensive line.
“I feel like the guys are coming together pretty well, due to injury we have to come together,” Seymour said. “I feel like the guys we have in there have enough experience and enough playing time to be fine in time for Northwestern.”
• Freshmen defensive lineman Vince Taylor sat out Wednesday with a broken hand sustained in Tuesday’s practice.
"He’s going to have to have some work done on it, but he’ll be ready to go in a few weeks," Caldwell said.
Caldwell and staff noticed the injury watching film; Taylor was lined up with the improper hand on the ground playing through the injury. Taylor could be redshirted if he doesn’t recover in time for the season.
• Senior running back Kennard Reeves sat out due to a tweaked hamstring. Caldwell said the decision to rest him was out of precaution more than necessity.
Freshman running back Wesley Tate sat a second day in a row resting an ailing foot.
• Kicker Ryan Fowler took a noticeable amount of punt repetitions Wednesday. Caldwell noted that Fowler is the backup punter, to redshirt sophomore Richard Kent.
“Yeah everybody competes, it makes them better,” Caldwell said. “It’s made Richard better, but Richard can boom that thing.”