Caldwell declares VU's quarterback competition nearly closed

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 10:15pm

Quarterbacks coach Jimmy Kiser has said that little, in terms of athletic ability, separates the three players considered in competition for the job as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback.

Head coach Robbie Caldwell gave a clear indication Wednesday, though, that 2009 starter Larry Smith, a fourth-year junior, is not likely to cede his spot to fifth-year senior Jared Funk or junior college transfer Jordan Rodgers.

“He’s stepped forward and he’s taken control,” Caldwell said. “It won’t be long and we’ll be naming someone but Larry pretty much has everything under control right now.”

Rodgers, younger brother of NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has not thrown the past few days due to a sore shoulder and back spasms. Caldwell said they have kept him off the field out of precaution despite his eagerness to participate.

Rodgers enrolled in school in January and went through spring drills with the team. He has a redshirt year available, and his status for the coming season will be affected by how quickly he recovers.

Smith started nine games in 2009 and his game experience has been his biggest advantage over Funk and Rodgers. He got his first SEC start as a redshirt freshman in the 2008 Music City Bowl and helped lead the Commodores to a 24-14 victory over 24th-ranked Boston College. He had 10 completions for 121 yards in the game.

Last season he threw for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns and had a passer rating of 80.0 before a hamstring injury caused him to sit out the final three contests.

Kiser has described Funk as having an “NFL arm” but he needs to improve consistency. With Rodgers sidelined, Funk, who has not thrown a pass in a college game, is the obvious backup. Redshirt-freshman Charlie Goro has been considered the forth quarterback but could move up, depending on Rodgers’ health.