Anyone in the surrounding neighborhood who enjoys the musical styling coming from the speakers of John Rich Practice Facility can thank Vanderbilt strength coach John Sisk. He’s been making the soundtrack to Vanderbilt’s football practices for years.
At first glance it’s hard to picture the 18-year coaching veteran with his ear to the latest hip-hop but players insist Sisk makes diverse and up-to-date playlists.
“[I play] things to get’em excited,” Sisk explained. “You’ve always got to have some AC/DC in there and all the newest rap stuff, As long as it’s edited I’ll play it loud. I tell’em I’ll play anything from Conway Twitty to Gucci Mane.”
Sisk notes that former coach Bobby Johnson allowed the addition of music during stretching and warm-ups a few years ago. A $14,000 stereo system in the weight room is brought outside daily to do the job.
Regarding how it sounds normally when indoors Sisk said: “It’s loud. They hear everything next door.”
Sisk’s playlists set the atmosphere for weight room as well. Though the pause button gets hit when he needs to coach technique and form, Sisk thinks the music adds excitement to a less glamorous part of the game.
“No one buys a season ticket in there [the weight room],” he said. “You don’t have fans, so you’ve got to create an environment to do work.”
The players are fans of the effort. Co-captain Adam Smotherman noted that they sometimes make suggestions that end up on the stereo.
“He definitely does a good job with it,” Smotherman said. ”He gets us going and he’s always got a good mix. He’s got rap, country, modern rock, classic rock, techno, anything you could want.”
Vanderbilt’s coaching staff has a lot on their minds with the start of the season approaching. For Sisk, one lesser issue will be maintaining his eclectic music listening reputation with the next mix.
“It’s just the first couple days [of fall practice] but after a while you get tired of hearing the same songs,” he said.
• Defensive Back Javon Marshall tweaked his hamstring near the end of Saturday’s practice. The extent of the injury is not yet determined.
• Linebackers Nate Campbell and DeAndre Jones also sat out parts of practice with unspecified leg injuries.
• Smotherman continues to recover from a spring practice knee injury that required surgery. He hopes to be ready for the season opener against Northwestern. Saturday, Smotherman worked out with ropes under the direction of Sisk.
“It’s definitely not a day off,” Smotherman said. “ He [Sisk] came out here and said real calmly ‘yeah we’ll do some ropes today’ and then we get into it and, whoa, it broke me off.”
• Freshmen receivers Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews have had impressive catches in each practice. Head coach Robbie Caldwell said he expects them to contribute immediately. But the best play of Saturday’s practice was a 30-yard sideline route that saw Jordan Rodgers drop the ball over the shoulders of last season’s leading receiver John Cole during 7-on-7 drills.
• Caldwell said he will dedicate the start of fall practice to evaluating his talent and cementing his system. Then his staff will begin preparing for week one.
“Basically our first nine practices, we’re putting in our system,” he said “We’re not worried about whether we beat defense, defense beats offense, that’s not our concern. We’re trying to get our package in and after nine days we’re going to start nothing but Northwestern.”
• Caldwell is pleased with the competition early on in fall practice, saying he has “29 sophomores that are busting their humps to take somebody’s job.”