Ryan Seymour has seen many of Vanderbilt’s other offensive linemen come into the meeting room at the start of a practice week injured.
James Williams broke his ankle. Reilly Lauer had an elbow problem. Eric Hensley and Ryan Custer have had sprained ankles.
“It’s been tough for the offensive line,” Seymour said. “For the most part, the people who have needed to have stepped up.”
Now Seymour, a 6-foot-4, 294-pound redshirt-freshman, might be the next one asked to step in for someone when the Commodores (2-5, 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference) play at South Carolina (5-2, 2-2) Saturday.
Thomas Welch, who has started every game at left tackle, sustained a sprained ankle in last weekend’s loss to Georgia and was considered questionable for this week. Seymour played the entire fourth quarter in place of Welch. It was the third time he got game action this season.
“I’d rather be asked to just grab my helmet and go in there rather than have a lot of time to think about it,” he said. “I feel like I did well and I was prepared. I’m just getting used to game speed, and ay time you can get out on the field it helps.”
The fact is that he’s still getting used to playing the position.
He spent last season as a defensive tackle but was moved to the offensive line – specifically left tackle – prior to the start of spring drills.
“It wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough on the defensive line,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “We’re looking at a guy who can be good at left tackle.
“It’s always great to have an athletic guy at left tackle.”
Seymour added roughly 30 pounds after the switch and has spent the entire season as the primary understudy to Welch, whom he calls “a mentor.”
“It’s taken a good while for him to make the transition,” Johnson said. “But he’s a good candidate to be a good left tackle.”
If Welch can’t play, Seymour will become the eighth different player to start on the offensive line this season for the Commodores, who have used three different starting combinations up front. It also will be the fourth straight week the five starters on the line are different than the previous week.
Welch, a senior, has started 20 straight games – he was the right tackle for all 13 in 2008 – which ties him with center Bradley Vierling for the longest streak among the offensive linemen.
“If need be, I’m prepared to start,” Seymour said. “But I think Thomas will be ready. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play the whole game. Either way, I’ll do whatever I need to do.”
• Defensive end Steven Stone, a senior who started every game the last two years, said following Tuesday’s workout that he plans to play at South Carolina.
He has missed the first seven games of the season with a fractured foot sustained during preseason drills.
“Physically, I’m ready to go,” Stone said. “How much playing time I get will depend on the coaches’ evaluation of me as a football player.”
Johnson said the decision to play will be Stone’s. The return of an experienced veteran will be a welcome one for the defensive line, which has been without backup Theron Kadri (high ankle sprain) the last two weeks.
• Justin Green has been moved to tight end after having played wide receiver through the first seven games.
The fourth-year junior was a tight end the previous three years but was moved to provide more size at wide receiver. He caught a 46-yard touchdown pass in the season-opener against Western Carolina but has not caught a pass since.
The move back to tight end was in response to the season-ending knee injury sustained by starter Austin Monahan last Saturday against Georgia.
“It shouldn’t be a problem for him,” Johnson said. “It might be a case where he presents some matchup problems by having a player with wide receiver skills at that position.”
• Running back Jared Hawkins, who has missed the last two games and five of seven overall with a foot injury, practiced without incident on Tuesday. His status remains a day-to-day proposition.