Vanderbilt’s offensive line enters 2020 with massive responsibility, as it’ll need to protect the Commodores’ inexperienced quarterbacks and give them enough time to get the ball out against a conference-only schedule full of tough defenses. Offensive line coach Pete Rossomando’s task got even more difficult recently, as ESPN’s Chris Low reported that veteran linemen Bryce Bailey and Cole Clemens would sit out 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns — Jonathan Stewart had already announced he would not play.

Those decisions leave Vanderbilt without three rotational offensive linemen who could have started this season. Michigan graduate transfer Stephen Spanellis also did not take part in live reps or individual drills on Monday, as head coach Derek Mason said he would reveal any additional losses later in the preseason.

“That’s exactly what happens,” Mason said. “You grab the guys that are here for us and what you start to do is see how these guys work together. You don’t have as many guys rotating through, and guys are having to learn how to play multiple positions. You’ve got guys playing guard and tackle. Tackle and guard. Guard-center combinations, right and left. So I think what you start to build is a little more chemistry in terms of guys leaning on guys and guys understanding that, ‘I’m not gonna be a one-position guy. I’ve gotta be a multifaceted player.’ I think that promotes unity within our group, and that’s what we’re about in 2020. We’ve gotta be a unified group, and no group exemplifies that more than the offensive line.”

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