Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2008 Vanderbilt Commodores Season
Vanderbilt DB D.J. Moore
Vanderbilt DB D.J. Moore
Posted Feb 4, 2009

2008 Vanderbilt Commodores Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2008 Vanderbilt Commodores

Dec. 31
2008 Music City Bowl
Vanderbilt 16 … Boston College 14

Vanderbilt’s offense was held in check all game long, gaining just 200 yards, but good field position and timely defense led the way to the win. Bryan Hahnfeldt hit all three of his field goal attempts and Sean Richardson recovered a fumble in the end zone for all the Commodores’ points. BC came up with a 17-play first half drive culminating in a four-yard Montel Harris touchdown catch, and Colin Larmond caught a 55-yard touchdown pass with less than seven minutes to play for the lead, but Vandy went on its best drive of the day, 48 yards in seven plays, setting up Hahnfeldt from 45 yards out with 3:26 to go. The Commodore defense did the rest forcing BC to turn the ball over on downs and picking off a late pass in Eagle territory.
Player of the Game: Vanderbilt PK Bryan Hahnfeldt hit all three field goal attempts connecting from 42, 26 and the game-winner from 45 yards out
Stat Leaders: Boston College - Passing: Dominick Davis, 15-36, 190 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Montel Harris, 15-68. Receiving: Montel Harris, 5-25, 1 TD
Vanderbilt - Passing: Larry Smith, 10-17, 121 yds
Rushing: Chris Nickson, 8-57. Receiving: Udom Umoh, 3-29
Inside The Box Score ...  5 Thoughts on the Music City Bowl …Total offense: BC 331 – Vanderbilt 200 … Average yards per carry: BC 3.7 – Vanderbilt 2.2 … Third down conversions: BC 7-of-17 – Vanderbilt 1-of-15 … First downs: BC 17 – Vanderbilt 8 … Turnovers: BC 3 – Vanderbilt 0 … Penalties: BC 3 for 34 yards – Vanderbilt wasn’t penalized … Vanderbilt first downs by rushing 2, passing 4, penalties 2.

- 2008 Vandy Preview
- 2007 Vandy Season

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2008 Record: 7-6

Aug. 30 at Miami Univ. W 34-13
Sept. 4 South Carolina W 24-17
Sept. 13 Rice  W 38-21
Sept. 20 at Ole Miss W 23-17
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 Auburn W 14-13
Oct. 11 at Mississippi St L 17-14
Oct. 18 at Georgia L 24-14
Oct. 25 Duke L 10-7
Nov. 8 Florida L 42-14
Nov. 15 at Kentucky W 31-24
Nov. 22 Tennessee L 20-10
Nov. 29 at Wake Forest L 23-10
Music City Bowl
Dec. 31 Boston College W 16-14

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 5-

Sept. 1 Richmond W 41-17
Sept. 8 Alabama L 24-13
Sept. 15
Ole Miss W 31-17
Sept. 29 Eastern Mic
h W 30-7
Oct. 6 at Auburn L 35-7
Oct. 13 Georgia L 20-17
Oct. 20 at South Carolina W 17-6
Oct. 27
Miami Univ. W 24-13
Nov. 3 at Florida L 49-22
Nov. 10
Kentucky L 27-20
Nov. 17 at Tennessee L 25-24
Nov. 24
Wake Forest L 31-17

Nov. 29
Wake Forest 23 … Vanderbilt 10
Brandon Pendergrass and Kevin Harris each ran for short touchdown runs on the way to a 17-3 Wake Forest lead and Rich Belton put it away on a four-yard run. Vanderbilt only managed 249 yards of total offense but got in the game with a five-yard Brandon Barden catch early in the fourth, but three turnovers and banged up quarterbacks proved costly. Wake Forest’s Alphonso Smith tied an ACC record with his 20th interception.
Player of the game: Wake Forest SS Chip Vaughn made nine tackles and an interception
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 3-10, 71 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jamie Graham, 7-33. Receiving: Sean Walker, 4-34
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 13-20, 173 yds
Rushing: Brandon Pendergrass, 10-45, 1 TD. Receiving: Demir Boldin, 8-73
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Vanderbilt has had its problems with its offense all season long, but it has a good excuse for the loss to Wake Forest: quarterback injuries. Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson weren’t on when they were in, combining to complete just 5-of-18 passes, but they were fighting through the pain. Larry Smith came in to try to help and he threw a touchdown pass, but Wake Forest was able to snuff out too many drives and kept the ground game in check. A bowl game is a certainty, but after losing six of the last seven games, this isn’t going to be the most attractive team.

Nov. 22
Tennessee 20 … Vanderbilt 10
Tennessee got all the points it needed in the second quarter as Montario Hardesty ran for an eight-yard touchdown and Eric Berry took a Chris Nickson pass 45 yards for a touchdown. Daniel Lincoln came through with field goals from 25 and 25 yards out. Mackenzi Adams stepped in to take over in the second half for the Commodores, but he only came up with three points on a 31-yard Bryant Hahnfeldt field goal. The defense came through with the other Vandy points on a 42-yard interception return for a score from Reshard Langford. Neither offense did much combining for 456 total yards.
Player of the game: Tennessee LB Rico McCoy made 11 tackles and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 18-38, 192 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jeff Jennings, 7-19. Receiving: George Smith, 5-46
Tennessee - Passing: B.J. Coleman, 4-8, 21 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Lennon Creer, 13-80. Receiving: Gerald Jones & Austin Rogers, 1-7
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense will never be anything special, and the big question mark continues at quarterback. Chris Nickson isn’t an option at this point after completing 1-of-5 passes for -5 yards and an interception. Mackenzi Adams at least put up some yards against Tennessee, even if he didn’t generate points. The defense did what it needed to do to make it a game against the Vols, but if the offense can’t be error-free, it turned the ball over three times, then forget about beating Kentucky to finish up the regular season.

Nov. 15
Vanderbilt 31 … Kentucky 24
After a 26-year absence, Vanderbilt became bowl eligible thanks to D.J. Moore, the star defensive back who picked off two passes and caught touchdown passes in the first quarter. Kentucky came back from a 24-7 deficit with a three-yard Tony Dixon touchdown run and a 10-yard dash from QB Randall Cobb midway through the fourth, but Moore came through with a pick on UK’s final drive to end the drama. Kentucky converted just one of ten third down conversion chances.
Player of the game: Vanderbilt DB D.J. Moore made four tackles, intercepted two passes, and caught three passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Kentucky - Passing: Randall Cobb, 11-26, 144 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Randall Cobb, 15-72, 1 TD. Receiving: E.J. Adams, 4-61
Vanderbilt - Passing: Chris Nickson, 15-27, 155 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Chris Nickson, 20-118. Receiving: Jared Hawkins, 4-49
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... They did it. They finally did it. The Commodores sure had to sweat it out, but they became bowl eligible thanks to their defense, which held Kentucky to 241 yards, ball control, they had the ball for just over 39 minutes, and big plays from their star. D.J. Moore showed why he’s a top NFL prospect, doing a little of everything well to beat the Wildcats. Give the coaching staff credit for trying to fix the offense, and even though the attack didn’t rock, it gained 368 yards, it did what it had to do. Now it’s time for the gravy and a win over Tennessee and/or Wake Forest to help make this special season even stronger.

Nov. 8
Florida 42 … Vanderbilt 14
Florida won the SEC title and rolled with ease after taking a 35-0 halftime lead and getting up 42-0 on Tim Tebow touchdown runs from 26 and eight yards out and threw three scoring passes of 12 yards to Louis Murphy, 11 to Riley Cooper, and 41 yards to David Nelson. Vanderbilt came up with the final 14 points with two Chris Nickson touchdown passes. Ryan Hamilton made 13 tackles for the Commodores.
Player of the game: Florida QB Tim Tebow completed 12-of-17 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 11 times for 88 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Chris Nickson, 7-14, 67 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Jared Hawkins, 11-46. Receiving: Sean Walker & Jamie Graham, 3-22, 1 TD
Florida - Passing: Tim Tebow, 12-17, 171 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Tim Tebow, 11-88, 2 TD. Receiving: Carl Moore, 4-31
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Vanderbilt has to play tough defense and win the special teams and turnover battle to beat the better teams. It didn’t come close against Florida; the defense wasn’t close and the offense didn’t have a chance when the Gators were focused. QB Chris Nickson wasn’t awful in garbage time when he stepped in for Mackenzi Adams, but there just weren’t any big plays from the offense to keep up the pace. There are still three chances to get the elusive sixth win, but it’s not going to be easy against Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest.

Oct. 25
Duke 10 … Vanderbilt 7
Missed field goals, three Vanderbilt turnovers, and little offensive punch made for an ugly game, but Duke was able to hold up late. The Blue Devils took a 10-0 lead in the third quarter on a 42-yard Nick Maggio field goal, and got a 22-yard Tony Jackson touchdown catch in the second, for all the points they’d need. Sean Walker accounted for 79 of Vandy’s 291 yards on one play taking a Mackenzi Adams pass for a fourth quarter score. The Commodores would have chances late, but turnovers proved costly.
Player of the game: Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis completed 21-of-36 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 14-31, 210 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Jared Hawkins, 11-45. Receiving: Sean Walker, 6-138, 1 TD
Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 21-36, 222 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jay Hollingsworth, 10-39. Receiving: Johnny Williams, 4-39
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now the Commodores are really in trouble. Not only did they lose another shot at bowl eligibility, but it has become a 750-pound gorilla on the program’s back after losing three straight. This was supposed to be the layup to get to the magical six-win mark, and now things get tougher as SEC play gets tighter. The offense was able to come up with one big play against the Blue Devils, a 79-yard touchdown to Sean Walker, but there was little consistency and no running game. Vandy can’t lose the turnover battle and win.

Oct. 18
Georgia 24 … Vanderbilt 14
Georgia got 172 yards and an 11-yard touchdown run from Knowshon Moreno and touchdown catches from A.J. Green and Mohamed Massaquoi on the way to the tough win. Matthew Stafford’s two touchdown passes gave the Dawgs a 14-0 lead, but Vanderbilt would stay alive with two touchdown catches from Jamie Graham. The Bulldog defense held in the fourth quarter and only allowed 245 yards.
Player of the game: Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno ran 23 times for 172 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for 10 yards
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 16-32, 131 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Jared Hawkins, 13-63. Receiving: James Graham, 4-36, 2 TD 
Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 13-23, 194 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Knowshon Moreno, 23-172, 1 TD. Receiving: A.J. Green, 7-132, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Commodore formula only goes so far. The defense did its part against Georgia, forcing two turnovers and getting off the field by stopping third down after third down, and the offense took advantage of a few key opportunities. But Knowshon Moreno proved to be too good, and the Vandy offense proved to be too mediocre. Mackenzi Adams was fine running the offense, but he wasn’t special enough to keep Chris Nickson out of the starting quarterback discussion going forward.

Oct. 11
Mississippi State 17 …. Vanderbilt 14
Mississippi State held Vanderbilt to just 107 yards of total offense, but the Commodores were able to score on two short runs, one from Chris Nickson and one from Jeff Jennings, to stay alive. The Bulldog offense wasn’t sharp, but behind the running of Anthony Dixon, a four-yard Brandon Henderson touchdown catch, and a three-yard Christian Ducre scoring run MS held a 17-7 lead late in the game. And then it was up to the D that allowed the Commodores to convert just one of ten third down chances.
Player of the game: Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon ran 27 times for 107 yards
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 5-9, 47 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jeff Jennings, 4-15 & Sean Walker, 2-15, 1 TD. Receiving: Sean Walker, 2-27
Mississippi State - Passing: Tyson Lee, 12-22, 81 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Anthony Dixon, 27-107. Receiving: Brandon McRae, 5-39
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Well, that was fun. Vanderbilt had been surviving on a bad offense and takeaways all season long, but it lost the turnover battle against Mississippi State, converted just 1-of-10 third down chances, and committed 10 penalties. The defense was fine, but it couldn’t pick up the slack. Things don’t get any easier with a trip to Georgia up next. Watch out. Outside of a home game against Duke, there might not be another win on the schedule.

Oct. 4
Vanderbilt 14 … Auburn 13
Auburn got out to a 13-0 first quarter lead on a seven-yard touchdown catch from Rodgeriqus Smith and a 28-yard scoring grab form Mario Fannin, and then it was all Vanderbilt the rest of the way with Mackenzi Adams stepping in for an injured Chris Nickson and throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Justin Wheeler and a one-yard scoring pass to Brandon Barden. And then the defense held on. Auburn only finished with 208 yards of total offense and committed 11 penalties.
Player of the game: Vanderbilt LB Patrick Benoist made 13 tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a broken up pass
Stat Leaders: Auburn - Passing: Chris Todd, 8-16, 70 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Ben Tate, 27-108. Receiving: Rodgeriqus Smith, 4-18, 1 TD
- Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 13-23, 153 yds, 2 TD
Mackenzi Adams, 13-54. Receiving: Justin Wheeler, 5-52, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Yeah, everything has to be perfect for Vanderbilt to win against teams like Auburn, but the team is making things happen its way. Even though Auburn’s offense stinks at the moment, the Commodores had a lot to do with that this week thanks to a tremendous game from Patrick Benoist and the linebacking corps keeping the Tiger ground game in check. Mackenzi Adams stepped in for Chris Nickson and made the offense produce under trying circumstances, but to go further in SEC play, the team will need something, anything, from the rest of the backfield. Eventually, the team will have to keep up against a good offense. Fortunately, it won’t be next week against Mississippi State.

Sept. 20
Vanderbilt 23 … Ole Miss 17
Vanderbilt’s Ryan Hamilton picked off three passes, came up with a goal line stop of Ole Miss RB Cordera Eason, and came up with a recovered fumble off a muffed punt, but it was a big play from Chris Marve to save the game. Ole Miss WR/RB Dexter McCluster was pushing his way toward the end zone when Marve stripped the ball loose. D.J. Moore recovered it in the end zone, and the Commodores had preserved the six-point win. Ole Miss took a 17-7 first quarter lead when Mike Wallace answered a Hamilton 79-yard interception return for a score with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Ole Miss offense never found the end zone as DT Peria Jerry scored on a 13-yard fumble return. The Commodores scored 16 unanswered points as Bryant Hahnfeldt nailed field goals from 34, 31 and 40 yards out after Jared Hawkins caught a nine-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.
Player of the game: Vanderbilt FS Ryan Hamilton made six tackles, picked off three passes, taking one 79 yards for a touchdown, made a goal line tackle, and recovered a fumble.
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt
- Passing: Chris Nickson, 6-7, 40 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jared Hawkins, 17-72. Receiving: Sean Walker, 3-12
Ole Miss
- Passing: Jevan Snead, 12-25, 184 yds, 4 INT
Rushing: Cordera Eason, 12-88. Receiving: Dexter McCluster, 7-132
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Can Vanderbilt finally get over the hump and get to a bowl game? How real is this team? The defense is fantastic, especially the secondary, and if it keeps forcing mistakes like it did against Ole Miss, it can hang around with anyone. Now the offense has to come around. The Commodores only came up with 202 yards of total offense and did nothing through the air with just 71 passing yards. Forget about winning a shootout, but in a defensive slugfest, it’ll win its share.

Sept. 13
Vanderbilt 38 … Rice 21
Vanderbilt broke open a 21-21 game with a 17-0 second half and a 24-point run to close. Jared Hawkins ran and Chris Nickson each ran for short scores, and Jamie Graham tore off a 27-yard touchdown dash to blow past the Owls. Nickson kept pace in the first half with a 14-yard run and Sean Walker added a five-yard touchdown dash as part of Vanderbilt’s 273 rushing yards. Rice got a 26-yard Jarett Dillard touchdown catch to start the scoring and got short touchdown runs from Chase Clement and James Casey, but struggled in the second half.
Player of the game:
Vanderbilt CB Myron Lewis made 10 tackles and two sacks
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt
- Passing: Chris Nickson, 7-16, 71 yds
Rushing: Jared Hawkins, 20-107, 1 TD. Receiving: Sean Walker, 4-40
Rice - Passing: Chase Clement, 25-30, 299 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: C.J. Ugokwe, 13-63. Receiving: James Casey, 12-115
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Rice was a dangerous game for Vanderbilt. The Owls have a good offense, it was a letdown game after the big win over South Carolina, and the Commodores appeared to be possibly ripe for the picking. But Chris Nickson had a good game, the defense kept the Owls down in the second half, and it’s a 3-0 start. Now there needs to be more of a passing game. A dangerous No. 1 receiver has to emerge.

Sept. 4
Vanderbilt 24 ... South Carolina 17
Vanderbilt stunned South Carolina for the second year in a row as Chris Nickson threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Barden and ran for a one-yard score in the third quarter, and Jared Hawkins put the game away with under ten minutes to play on a 13-yard scoring dash. South Carolina's offense was fine at first, with Kenny McKinley catching a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, but only managed a 41-yard field goal and a fourth-quarter five-yard touchdown catch from Freddie Brown. The Gamecocks would get one late change, but were forced to punt and Vandy ran out the clock.
Player of the game: Vanderbilt LB Patrick Benoist made 15 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: South Carolina - Passing: Chris Smelley, 23-39, 233 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Mike Davis, 18-80. Receiving: Jared Cook, 8-111
Vanderbilt - Passing: Chris Nickson, 6-13, 90 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jared Hawkins, 17-84, 1 TD. Receiving: Jamie Graham, 3-21
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
All of a sudden, Vanderbilt goes from being a sure-thing bottom feeder in the loaded East to a major player in search for potentially more than a bowl bid. That might be stretching it after the win over South Carolina, especially with the offense struggling to find any consistency in the passing game, but it was a big victory over a name team at home. With Rice and Ole Miss up next, there's a good chance of going 4-0 if the team maintains it focus, but most importantly, the defense has to continue to play like it has over the last two weeks.

Aug. 28
Vanderbilt 34 ... Miami Univ. 13
Miami scored first on a 37-yard Nathan Parseghian field goal and got a 30-yard touchdown catch from Eugene Harris midway though the second, but the defense couldn't contain Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson, who ran for 166 yards with two scores. The Commodore defense held tough in the second half allowing just a 29-yard Parseghian field goal. Vandy outgained MU 269 yards to 96 on the ground. MU LB Joey Hudson made 14 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss with a fumble recovery.
Player of the game: Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson completed nine of 16 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, and ran 20 times for 166 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Miami - Passing: Daniel Raudabaugh, 19-41, 244 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Thomas Merriweather, 10-59. Receiving: Eugene Harris, 4-52, 1 TD
Vanderbilt - Passing: Chris Nickson, 9-16, 91 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Chris Nickson, 20-166, 2 TD. Receiving: Sean Walker, 2-53, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After an off-season of uncertainty about the quarterback situation, Chris Nickson came through with a whale of a game against a Miami University defense loaded with a tremendous linebacking corps. Nickson stayed calm under pressure and did what he needed to do when he had a chance to take off. Sean Walker only caught two passes, and they came on the same drive, but he showed the jets and the potential to become a major weapon.

2008 Recruiting Class

Star of the Class
Tristan Strong LB 6-1 220 Loganville, Ga. Grayson H.S.
HIGH SCHOOL Senior captain, helping squad to 10-3 overall record and appearance in Georgia AAAAA state quarterfinals... Two-year starter at LB; three-year letterwinner... As senior, posted 46 total tackles, 31 solo stops, three QB sacks and a pair of INTs... Recovered fumble for TD... Returned two punts for 14.5-yard average... In 2006, squad went 6-6, advancing to first round of playoffs... As junior, contributed 51 total tackles, seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a blocked kick... Named to first team 5A All-State squad and All-Gwinnett County team... Two-time All-Region pick... Played in recent Georgia North-South All-Star Game... Played two years of varsity basketball... Honors student recognized as one of school's top scholar-athletes.
Tristan Julio Strong... Son of Julio and Jody Strong... Born on Nov. 10, 1989... Dad is an electrician; mom is a florist... Two uncles, Tami Tarbush and Ricky Payne, played football at South Carolina; another uncle, Rod Cole, played basketball at Georgia.

"Vanderbilt is getting a real classy individual with Tristan Strong. He's a guy that's involved in student leadership, his academics are great, and he's going to give you all he's got on the field. He's a fast kid, a real natural athlete that is really put together physically. Plus, Tristan has been just a great leader for our squad."He's an extremely versatile football player. He's a presence on the field. We ran a 3-4 scheme defensively with Tristan playing outside linebacker. Most teams just tried to go the other way, away from him. That limited his production."

Potential Instant Impact Players

DeAndre Jones LB 6-0 220 Memphis, Tenn. Memphis University School
Senior captain... Earned four varsity letters, starting two years at strong safety before moving to WLB as senior... Finalist for Division II-AA Mr. Football Lineman of the Year as senior... All-State selection and the (Nashville) Tennessean's "Dream Team" member... Finalist for region's top defensive player after anchoring 2007 defense with a conference-high 76 solo tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, eight QB sacks, two forced fumbles and an INT... Helped MUS to 7-4 record and first round of state playoffs in senior year, earning team's Roberts MVP Award... Helped Owls to state Division II titles in 2004-05... Finished career with 203 total tackles and 38 tackles for loss... Throws shot put and discus... National Honor Society member.

Al Owens DB 6-2 198 Springtown, Texas Springtown H.S.
Senior captain for Porcupines... Three-year starter in defensive secondary for school located just west of Fort Worth... Also started as TB and kickoff returner for 2007 squad that advanced to first round of AAAA playoffs... As senior, contributed 58 total tackles, five tackles for loss, one INT and three forced fumbles... Returned one fumble for defensive TD... As TB, ran for 294 yards and two TDs on just 37 carries and caught 12 passes for 198 yards and a TD... Named 4A third team All-State and first team All-District 6-4A as DB... As junior, collected 80 tackles, two INTs and five tackles for loss... Also returned two kickoffs for TDs in 2006... Finished career with more than 200 tackles, four INTs and five fumble recoveries... As two-time regional qualifying sprinter in track, PRs include 10.9 (100 meters) and 22.13 (200 meters)... National Honor Society member, and academic All-District recipient in football and track.

Rest of the Class
Archie Barnes ATH 6-4 210 Tampa, Fla. Berkeley Prep
Michael Bryant OL 6-4 294 La Vergne, Tenn. La Vergne H.S.
John Burrow DE 6-4 222 Morris, Ala. Mortimer Jordan H.S.
Richard Cagle OL 6-4 272 Houston, Texas St. Pius X H.S.
John Cole WR 5-11 170 Somerset, Ky. Somerset H.S.
Dexter Daniels LB 6-1 210 Brantley, Ala. Brantley H.S.
Akeem Dunham WR 6-3 180 Eustis, Fla. Eustis H.S.
Ryan Fowler PK 5-10 160 Taylors, S.C. Eastside H.S.
Casey Hayward DB 6-0 175 Elko, Ga. Perry H.S.
Josh Jelesky DE 6-5 234 Naperville, Ill. Naperville Central H.S.
Taylor Loftley DL 6-2 250 Chamblee, Ga. Chamblee H.S.
Rob Lohr DE 6-4 245 Phoenixville, Pa. Phoenixville H.S.
Colt Nichter DT 6-2 272 Park City, Utah Park City H.S.
Micah Powell DB 6-0 192 Tarpon Springs, Fla. East Lake H.S.
Sean Richardson DB 6-2 180 Linden, Ala. Linden H.S.
Ryan Seymour DT 6-4 250 Kingsland, Ga. Camden Co. H.S.
Johnell Thomas DL 6-2 240 Orlando, Fla. Boone H.S.
Caleb Welchans OL 6-5 265 Wildwood, Mo. Lafayette H.S.

2008 Early Lookahead
Why to get excited: The quarterback situation is excellent with Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson two strong, veteran options who can each keep defensive coordinators up at night. The defense finished 16th in the nation and was tremendous against the pass. Everyone returns to the secondary, led by top corner D.J. Moore and big hitting safety Reshard Langford, and the team's two best pass rushers, DE Broderick Stewart and LB Patrick Benoist, are back.
Why to be grouchy: The window might have slammed shut. Vandy should've been able to get to a bowl game in each of the last two seasons, didn't, and now it's rebuilding time with all five starters gone off the offensive line, top linebackers Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs gone off the defense, and all-star receiver Earl Bennett leaving early for the NFL. The rest of the SEC East, outside of Kentucky, appears to be better, while Vandy has gotten a lot worse.
The number one thing to work on is: Throwing the ball. Good luck. Again, Adams and Nickson can play, but they can't do it all on their own. The passing attack only averaged 176 yards per game, and things aren't going to get much better with Bennett gone. George Smith has to step up and become a number one go-to guy on the inside, while Justin Wheeler has to do more on the outside.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Earl Bennett
Biggest defensive loss: LB Jonathan Goff
Best returning offensive player: QB MacKenzi Adams, Jr.
Best returning defensive player: CB D.J. Moore, Jr.

2007 Recap
Recap: It has almost become painful watching Vanderbilt try to get over the hump, and back to the postseason for the first time in a quarter-century.  For the third consecutive year, the Commodores entered November within striking distance of bowl eligibility, only to lose their final four games.  Although moral victories alone won’t end the bowl drought, the days of Vandy being an automatic lay up for the rest of the SEC ended a couple of years ago.            

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Earl Bennett

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Jonathan Goff

Biggest Surprise: On Oct. 20, the ‘Dores traveled to Columbia, and sucked the air out of No. 6 South Carolina, 17-6.  QB Mackenzi Adams delivered one of his most efficient efforts of the season, but it was the play of the suffocating Vandy defense that sparked the school’s lone signature moment of 2007.    

Biggest Disappointment: Blowing a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead to rival Tennessee in a game that would have secured bowl eligibility for Vanderbilt.  The Commodores out played the Volunteers for most of the game, and could have won on a last-minute, but fell short, 25-24, in an excruciating microcosm of their inability to pull out close games in the waning moments.   

Looking Ahead: The talent level continues to improve in Nashville, and head coach Bobby Johnson is a nice fit for a small, private institution that isn’t obsessed with its athletic programs.  There are enough returning regulars for Vanderbilt to be in the hunt for a 13th game again in 2008, but to get to the next level, it has to start winning a game or two in November.



Related Stories
2009 Vanderbilt Signing Day Tracker
 -by  Feb 3, 2009
VIDEO: Music City Bowl Celebration
 -by  Jan 30, 2009
Marco Gupton Verbally Commits to Navy
 -by  Feb 9, 2009

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Vanderbilt
[View My HotList]