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NCAA Football SEC FootballVanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt Commodores Face Quarterback Decision

Don McPeak, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Vanderbilt Commodores must find a replacement for departed quarterback Jordan Rodgers in 2013. Austyn Carta-Samuels figures to have the inside track to be the starter during the upcoming season, but he hasn’t been named as such just yet.

Carta-Samuels played in six games last season, completing 14-of-25 through the air for 208 yards and one touchdown. He was the starter in Vandy’s win over Presbyterian, but served as the backup to Rodgers in every other game.

The experience factor should be in Carta-Samuels’ favor. Before transferring to Vandy, Carta-Samuels was a standout quarterback at Wyoming, passing for 3,655 yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons with the Cowboys. He was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the year in 2009.

Head coach James Franklin likes Carta-Samuels’ experience, but he also knows that there is another quarterback on the roster who may have more upside.

That quarterback would be redshirt freshman Patton Robinette, a native of Maryville, Tenn. Robinette was a standout at tradition-rich Maryville High School, where he was named Tennessee’s Gatorade Player of the Year and a finalist for the 5A Mr. Football award.

At Maryville, Robinette was 114-of-160 passing for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior season. He also rushed for 886 yards and 16 touchdowns for Maryville, which won the 5A state championship.

Robinette will be given a fair opportunity to win the job during the spring and, if necessary, during fall drills. Franklin does not seem ready to commit to one quarterback or the other at this point, so this appears to be an open competition for the starting job.

The starting quarterback, whoever he shall be, will have Jordan Matthews returning at wide receiver, a player who can make any quarterback better. Matthews was a first-team All-SEC selection last season, when he caught 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vanderbilt is hoping to build on a 9-4 season, including their second consecutive bowl appearance. Picking the right quarterback could go a long way if the ‘Dores are to make it to a third straight bowl game.