HOOVER, Ala. – Vanderbilt junior Ralph Webb said Monday at SEC Media Days that while he has set some personal goals this season, “I would rather not display them right now. I just want to make sure we go out to each and every game and get the ‘W.’ “
Words like that should warm the heart of every coach – though you can’t help but think Webb knows the Vandy career rushing record is within his reach.
Webb has rushed for 2,059 yards in his first two seasons with the Commodores. That means a 1,085-yard season gives him the school's career record; Zac Stacy is the record-holder, with 3,143 yards from 2009-12.
As with Stacy, Webb has put up solid numbers despite playing in an offense without much of a passing attack. And Webb could do in three seasons what it took Stacy four seasons to accomplish.
One thing that should help Webb this fall is that there will more surrounding talent on offense. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur was thrown into the fray as a true freshman last season and predictably struggled. But Webb praised Shurmur's offseason work and noted that he has a "mental edge with his dad being a coach." Pat Shurmur is a former NFL head coach and currently is an NFL assistant.
Webb also said the return from injuries by tackle Andrew Jelks and wide receiver C.J. Duncan were big positives for the Commodores. Jelks should be Vandy's best lineman and Duncan the Commodores' go-to receiver.
Webb revealed that coordinator Andy Ludwig will be moving him around in the formation this season in an attempt to get Webb in space more often. While Webb lacks elite top-end speed, he has a burst and was a state long jump champion at Gainesville (Fla.) High.
Despite going to high school less than 3 miles from Florida's campus -- incidentally, Webb proudly pointed out that he broke Clinton Portis' career rushing record at Gainesville High -- Webb was not a recruiting priority for Florida. Webb said Monday that he grew up as "a big Gator fan" and would've loved to play for Florida. He got a measure of revenge last season when he scored on a 74-yard run in Gainesville in a 9-7 loss to the Gators.
"That was one for the books," he said. "That was definitely a memory for me and my family."
Perhaps he will surpass Stacy and make another memory this season, one that is even more long-lasting.
(To hear an interview from Webb on 1010 XL in Jacksonville, click here.)
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
© 2016, Mike Huguenin. All rights reserved.
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