Commodores' bowl prep includes position change for one notable freshman

Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 10:32pm

Lafonte Thourogood wants to play in 2012 and the Vanderbilt freshman doesn’t believe that will happen as a quarterback.

So he is moving to running back.

Commodores coach James Franklin announced after practice on Wednesday that Thourogood came to him earlier in the day with the idea of switching positions.

“I think the biggest thing is he wants an opportunity to play next year,” said Franklin, whose team is preparing to play Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31. “Looking at our situation at quarterback, he didn’t think that was going to happen. It was nothing more than him wanting to play and get on the field as soon as he felt like he possibly could. Between him and me, we felt like that was the best chance for him to get on the field.”

Thourogood was highly touted coming out of Virginia Beach, Va. He de-committed from Virginia Tech shortly before national signing day in February and signed with Vanderbilt.

Ranked as a four-star recruit by Scout.com, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder totaled nearly 2,000 yards and scored 27 touchdowns at Ocean Lakes High School.

He redshirted this season as the Commodores had six quarterbacks. They’ll lose senior Larry Smith but starter Jordan Rodgers will return, along with Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels and freshmen Josh Grady and Kris Kentera — who both redshirted as well.

“We knew obviously when we recruited those three guys that it wasn’t like we recruited three guys that could only play quarterback,” Franklin said. “We knew they were athletic enough to play other positions and help us in other areas. You’re not going to sign three drop-back quarterbacks that’s the only position they can play.”

The backfield figures to be crowded as well, though.

Zac Stacy, who set the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,136 yards, will return for his senior season. True freshman Jerron Seymour will be back after an encouraging season in which he scored four touchdowns.

Junior Warren Norman hopes to bounce back after a knee injury kept him out all fall. Plus, one of the state's top prospects, Brian Kimbrow, out of Memphis, has committed to Vanderbilt and is expected to sign in February.

“Instead of waiting until spring ball to do this, I thought it was great on his part from a maturity standpoint to realize this is an opportunity to get some work at it,” Franklin said. “So when spring ball comes he is further ahead.”