"I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling... Gotta make you understand."
-- Music Icon Rick Astley
Brandon Barca is in his sixth year working for Vanderbilt Athletics and third as Director of Online Services. Send him your comments at email@example.com.
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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2- 11:10 PM
Freshman forward Steve Tchiengang is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night when the Commodores take on Illinois-Chicago at 7 p.m. CT at Memorial Gym.
Tchiengang has missed the first six games of the season due to a NCAA policy that involves some first-year international students.
The Douala, Cameroon, native did see action in the exhibition against Alabama-Huntsville on November 9 and scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
I had the opportunity in a recent interview to discuss several topics with him including why he came to America after spending the majority of his life in Cameroon. I hope you enjoy it.
Steve, I interrupted you and Jeffery Taylor playing FIFA soccer on the Playstation 3. What was the result of that game?
"He just scored the first goal because I was distracted by George Drake. At least, that's my excuse for it."
What's the usual outcome when you guys play that video game?
"Well, he's beaten me several times but I've beaten him a couple times, too. He has better experience on the PS3 and I usually play it on the XBOX 360, so he has the edge on me in that game."
In my interview with him a few weeks ago, he said that Sweden was better than Cameroon in Soccer. Would you like to set the record straight?
"He always says Sweden is better but I disagree. When you look at the records, Cameroon has gone farther in the national and international competitions."
So who's the better soccer player, you or him?
"Even if he did play soccer, he didn't play for a team with the level of competition that I did. Competition in Africa is rough and physical. It's the primary sport there. In fact, I read his quote in that interview where he said he was better than me and there's no way that's possible.
"I do have more experience in soccer than basketball, because this is only my fifth year playing basketball. I played soccer most of my life. But, we go at each other all the time, and it's just fun."
Does your soccer experience translate to the basketball court?
"Yes, it definitely does. Mentally, you have to be tough, because like I said soccer players are very physical in Africa. They do a crazy amount of training to help their stamina. I'm sure my quickness, lateral movement and other involvement with my feet helps me get an edge on some of the things I do on the basketball court."
The media guide says you picked up basketball when you were 15. How did you first get involved in basketball?
"I was back in Cameroon in a city called Douala. I was just working one day and this guy was like, `Do you know basketball?' and I said `Yes, I've heard of it.' So, he showed me how to shoot. I used to shoot with my hands behind my head. I had the desire and every day I just wanted to get better after every game. The game was totally neutral in my country. There's still not even a famous league or an organized game over there. So, I just started to play more often with friends. We played in the street and watched a lot of videos. We watched a lot of NBA action."
Was there anyone in particular you watched on television?
"Obviously, Michael Jordan. Every time you talked about basketball, everybody thinks of Michael Jordan. So I watched a lot of his stuff."
Why did you move to the United States?
"When I moved to the United States, my first purpose was to get an education, because my family back home was poor. I always felt at a certain age that my parents wouldn't be able to make it any more, and in Africa you don't get retirement and stuff like over here. It's totally different. You don't get insurance. Such a thing doesn't exist. So, I always felt that my family would really be pleased if I could be successful with my education.
"As for basketball, it wasn't until after my sophomore year of high school that I figured out what college basketball was, and all of the vibes around it. So, it wasn't an athletic purpose. It was strictly educational."
Have your parents ever seen you play basketball?
"The first time my mom watched me play basketball was my sophomore year. We lost that game by one. We played in a tournament in Houston, and we lost that game in the last second. I blocked the shot in the final possession and the referees called it goaltending, and that's how we lost the game. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life because my mom got to see me play even though we didn't win."
The Ambrose family took you in when you came to America. Talk about what they've meant to you.
"Well, I would say it was God's plan. I didn't know them at all. I didn't know English so it was hard to communicate at first. But, I'd define them as my parents. People could say, `They're white,' but it doesn't matter. They have a great heart. They love me just like a son. I call them mom and dad, just because I know that's how we feel. It doesn't matter the color of the skin or the blood relation. So, I do love them, and they've been a great addition to my life. They have been a tremendous blessing, and have taught me so much about life and things that really matter. I can never be thankful enough for it."
How's your experience been with the multicultural backgrounds of the players on this year's team?
"Well, they like to make fun of me and my French accent because I don't know how to pronounce `three' and when I say `Jeffrey' I accent the `r.' I think it's just funny because it brings us laughter, and we need that especially when we are trying to learn so many things. I enjoy the diversity of backgrounds that we have on the team, and I think it's a good thing to have."
Now let's look back at the exhibition with Alabama-Huntsville on November 9. In your only action of the year, you showed you have some outside range for a big guy.
"The 3-pointer has always been in my game since my sophomore year of high school, when I took a lot of time and dedication into putting in the hours to develop my outside game. I'll work on my 3-pointer every time I come into the gym. I work on my post moves, too, but I work on the 3-pointer because I know that somehow I'll be open at the arc and will need to knock those shots down. Plus, I think I can use it as an asset for my team, by making the defense honest by drawing attention to me so we can have another person cutting to the basket for an open shot."
You also looked comfortable in the post.
"Actually, this is my first year playing the post. Last year, I played wing. I played the forward, but I was taking 3-pointers all the time and never posted up. So, this year I'm learning to play the post, and I'm very happy with the way it's coming out. I think my hook shot is coming along, and my game with my back to the basket is coming along. I'll keep working on the little details."
Do you shoot with both hands in the post?
"Yes, I can shoot with both."
Were you nervous before your first collegiate game that night?
"Well, I was a little before the game, because I wasn't even expecting to play due to a pulled hamstring. At the last minute they said I could go but to let the coaches know if I felt any pain or tightness. As far as nervousness, I was feeling pretty confident. I was just loose and relaxed. I've played in front of big crowds before so that didn't make me nervous. I'd say the nervousness came at the free throws. I was an 88 percent free-throw shooter my senior year, and missing three free throws for me is a lot. That was one of the most disappointing things for me that night. But, I was in the gym the next day. I shot only free throws for two hours."
You scored 11 points with seven of those coming during an early run. Talk about that stretch where you provided a spark for the offense.
"First off, after I knocked down the 3-pointer I realized I was in the zone and wanted to keep doing it. Then, we came back and made a stop and I made that crazy left-handed dunk with a foul, even though I missed the free throw. I think all of that wouldn't have happened without the help of my teammates. I think by making those plays, and my teammates making defensive stops just gave us a boost to take over the game and control it to the end."
Has your high school nickname ("The Proof") carried over to college?
"We don't really call each other by nicknames. Coach Rice likes to call us freshmen, `Young Dragons.' That nickname has carried over with the other players."
Why did you decide to wear No. 33?
"I wear it because according to Bible scholars, Jesus Christ died at the age of 33. He's part of my life, and he has done tremendous things in my life, even things I don't think I deserve sometimes. So, I wanted that number in recognition of him, because at the end of the day everything is up to him. I just wanted to thank him for that."
Reshard Langford has the same number for similar reasons. Have you talked to him about that?
"Actually, I told him that he had a nice number, that it was my number too, and that I hoped we had it for the same reason. He said, `I hope so too.'"
Finally, considering you are still pretty new to the sport of basketball, do you think you still have a lot of room to grow on the court?
"Yes. My coach in high school always told me that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. I believe that I can improve in every single way possible on the floor, and off the floor too. I think I can improve so much of my game with time and dedication. The sky's the limit if I really put myself into that position by working hard."
Now it's time for the video of the day. Actually, I'll throw in two.
First, we all got Rick Roll'd on Thanksgiving Day during the annual telecast of the Macy's parade. And it was amazing.
My friend Matt said it best in an email.
"I saw this live on TV as well. This was good on so many levels. The song they were playing that got interrupted was a Harry Nilsson song. Definitely the highlight of the parade. If there can be highlights for a parade."
Second, Jason sent me this video of a baby that just might be a Karate Kid prodigy. You'll see why.
And speaking of Karate Kid, it's been reported that Will Smith's son, Jaden, will star in an updated version of the 1984 film. Who knows how it will turn out, but it can't be any worse than the fourth installment that featured two-time oscar winner Hilary Swank.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26- 12:57 PM
You see them on the sideline cheering for the Commodores every Saturday.
What you may not see though is a group of student-athletes reaching beyond the football field.
During the Commodores trip to Kentucky two weeks ago, Vanderbilt Cheer Coach Pam Pearson and the cheer squad made a special visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Lexington.
Shriners provides specialty pediatric care at no charge to children with severe ailments ranging from orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.
"A lot of the children could be bitter or angry over their disabilities, but all of them were really happy and appreciated us," said junior cheerleader Dariun Maxwell. "Even though they were in a bad situation or bed-bound, they were all smiling and having fun and enjoying life. So, it really makes me appreciate my life."
The cheerleaders are involved in one cause-related event per month, but this was the first time the team did a service activity on a football road trip.
"I called Shriners Hospital," Pearson said, "and asked if they'd be interested in having our cheerleaders spend some time with the children who were there. They were ecstatic to have us come."
One of 22 Shriners locations in the United States, the Lexington facility treats children from areas across the southeast.
"We didn't know what to expect," said Maxwell, "but once we got there and saw the children, we all appreciated it. By the time we left, no one wanted to leave."
For two hours that night, the cheerleaders engaged the children with games, stories, autographs and even a Commodore spirit routine. The kids were able to focus less on their injuries and more on their smiles.
On a historic weekend for Vanderbilt athletics, the cheerleaders walked away with a life-long memory off the gridiron.
"We realized very quickly how fortunate we really are," Pearson remarked, "and how unfortunate some young children are. So for us to go there and brighten their day just for two hours was a special experience."
If you're interested in having the Vanderbilt Cheerleaders come to your cause-related event, visit their website at www.vanderbilt.edu/cheer
We'll close with a video of the day. Thanks to Caliente for sending it in. This will definitely help you get your groove on for Turkey Day.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7- 11:45 AM
INTERVIEW WITH FRESHMAN JEFFERY TAYLOR
I stopped by Wednesday's basketball practice to find out more about another freshman from this year's class, guard/forward Jeffery Taylor. Taylor was born and raised in Sweden before moving to the United States when he was 17. In only two seasons at Hobbs High in New Mexico, he broke the school's all-time scoring record and guided his team to a state title his senior year. His father, Jeff, also attended Hobbs and played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons. Vanderbilt fans can get a first look at Taylor and the rest of the Commodores at Sunday's home exhibition against Alabama-Huntsville.
Jeffery, before we get started, I have to ask you about the story that's going around about you cutting your head on the rim. Is it true?
"Yeah, it was about a week after we got here, and we were just about to play pick-up and everybody was just saying that they didn't believe that I could do it. So, I just did it, and I jumped a little bit too high and I hit my head on one of those things that you hang the net on, and it kind of cut me up a little bit. I lived."
You're listed in the media guide at 6'7". Is that the first time you've done that?
"It's the first time that I've hit it that hard. I really didn't mean to jump that high. It kind of just happened, but I've hit my head on the rim a lot more times than that."
How's practice gone for you so far?
"It's gone well. It takes a lot of adjustment. It's a big step from high school, and that kind of caught us all off guard. We knew coming in that it would be a big step, but it's been a huge transition. So, I think we're all getting used to it, and we're picking up all of the plays fairly well. I think all of us freshmen have come a long way."
What's been the biggest transition?
"Just the speed of the game; the defenses are a lot smarter."
Have you had any freshman moments at practice yet?
"It seems like something happens every day. It might be something small, like you get caught staring at the ball and someone cuts backdoor on you. It's just small things like that every day that you need to learn from."
For Commodore fans who haven't seen you play, how do you assess your game to them?
"I like to play with a lot of energy. I like to play athletic, use my body a lot and then just basically play with skill."
Coach said that you're competitive in nature. Talk about that.
"I've just always been a competitive person in whatever I do. It could be just throwing a tennis ball and trying to hit a wall from far away or just whatever. I just always find something competitive in anything I do."
What played into your decision to come to Vanderbilt?
"I came here to watch Vanderbilt play LSU last year, and I really liked the fan support. Of course the coaches, I'm really close to all of them. They're great people, and of course the guys on the team, too. Coach Muller was the main person recruiting me, and he's a big part of me coming here. Basically I liked everybody and everything around the school. It's a great academic school."
When did you move from Sweden to the United States?
"When I was 17, I came here for my junior and senior year of high school."
How did you end up in New Mexico for the last two years of high school?
"I have a link there because I have a bunch of family who still live there, like my grandma and my uncles. So, I just stayed with my uncle and just played there."
What do you miss most about Sweden?
"Just society as a whole, it's a lot more laidback, both school and sports. I like way the United States does it where school and sports are connected, you have a school team. They don't really have that over in Sweden. I especially miss the Swedish winters. I love the cold. People around here see me walking around in shorts and stuff when it's freezing, but I'm used to it. So, I love the cold."
A lot of people on the team come from various parts of the world. Do you guys ever talk about your cultures and experiences?
"Yeah, sometimes, we mess with each other. We mess with Steve (Tchiengang) because he has a French accent, so that's kind of fun. It's a great experience though, meeting people from around the world and the stories you hear from Steve and Fez (Festus Ezeli) and all them. It's great."
You played for the U-20 Sweden national team this past summer. How was that experience?
"It was a great experience. It was definitely fun to get to travel around Europe and just getting to play with old friends again, because most of us grew up playing with each other. So every summer we just meet again and reconnect. So, it was really good."
What's your favorite place in Europe outside of Sweden? Why?
"It would probably be Venice. It's just a beautiful city, and it has a lot of history."
How much of an impact did your dad have on your basketball career?
"He's basically the reason I play basketball. He's had the biggest effect on me as a person and as a basketball player. He's basically the one who put the basketball in my hands. So, I attribute everything that I am today to my dad."
Did you have a lot of experience with him in the professional basketball arena?
"He played in the NBA for about five years before I was born, so I didn't really experience a lot of that. But, he did take me to Hobbs High School in New Mexico, and of course they have a lot of tradition there. He went to Texas Tech, so I've been there. I've basically been around basketball my whole life. So, it was never a question of whether I was going to be a basketball player or not."
What advice has he given you about the transition to college?
"Always play hard, and always be competitive. It'll take you a long way."
Your hometown is known for fishing. Do you fish?
"I'm known to fish. I do it every once in a while. I'll go out with my grandpa when I go back to Sweden during the summers and stuff. It doesn't happen a lot, but I like fishing because we have a lot of rivers and lakes in Sweden. So, it's a big thing."
Do you have a particular type of fishing that you enjoy?
"It's just regular fishing, and during the winters sometimes you go out to a lake and ice fish and stuff."
Do you have a biggest catch or anything that you're proud of?
"Not really. I'm not really that lucky with fishing. It kind of frustrates me. Everybody else seems to catch fish and I'm the only one just sitting there."
What other hobbies do you enjoy?
"I used to play soccer when I was younger. So, I still like to play soccer. I like to watch American football. It's not really a big thing in Europe, but I love to watch it."
Is Steve a better soccer player?
"He says he is, but he really isn't. Sweden is a better soccer country than Cameroon. He says he's better, but I doubt it."
Who are you rooming with, and how's that going?
"Lance Goulbourne; it's going well. He's a little bit of a neat freak, and I just throw my stuff around. He cleans the room a lot, and wants it clean. So, we kind of get into it a little bit sometimes, but it's all good though."
Are you messy on purpose just to tease him?
"Not really. I'll just throw my clothes on the chair, and it'll get to him sometimes."
Is his locker pretty neat as well?
"Yes; everything about Lance is neat. You should see his shoes. He has like 50 pairs of shoes, and they're neatly stacked in his closet. Mine, I just throw them in there. Everything's just thrown in there."
Finally, how excited are you about getting the season underway Sunday?
"I'm really excited. We've been working hard in practice. It's going to be a lot of fun to see how we do against a real opponent in a real game."
VIDEO OF THE DAY
To celebrate Halloween last week, guess who showed up at the arena dressed as the character "Danny Zuko" from Grease.
And if you can't get enough LeBron, check out his best plays from 2007. Unreal.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4- 4:59 PM
Last week, I visited the practice facility inside Memorial Gym to catch a glimpse of a women's basketball television commercial shoot featuring first-team All-SEC selection Christina Wirth.
Wirth wasn't the only one in the spotlight for the production. She was joined by two wide-eyed youngsters - Haley (12 years old) and Hadley (3) - to symbolize how childhood dreams of playing big-time collegiate basketball can become a reality.
After the lights and the cameras cut off, I spoke with Wirth to find out a little bit about her youth basketball experiences. Here's the interview:
Christina, when you see a three-year old out there playing basketball does it bring back memories for you?
"Yeah, Hadley actually looks just like me. So, it was cute. During the filming, I was sitting next to her while her older sister (Haley) was shooting and she said `I love basketball.' It was a fun experience to have both of them involved.
"It's sometimes kind of hard to remember playing basketball as a kid when you get to this level. It's so competitive now and you think back and realize that you really just loved it when you were little. I still do, but it's a different kind of game now. It's so much more competitive and serious. It was good to see the love of the game by a little kid."
How young were you when you first started and what do you remember?
"I want to say five or six years old, just playing in the YMCA leagues with co-ed teams. I remember I began playing AAU basketball when I was 10 or 11 and then started being more serious about basketball. But, up until then I played all different kinds of sports, and just doing what little kids do."
Did any one have a significant influence on you growing up?
"Both of my parents really like sports. I always played with my older sister on the same teams growing. I think that was kind of the stuff to do, and then I got to the point where I started really loving it myself and doing it because I wanted to and not because anyone was making me or my parents wanted me to, but because I wanted to."
How much older is your sister?
"She's two years older than me, so we played together for two years in high school. Up until then, we played on a lot of the same teams when we were little and then AAU for a couple of years."
Were the two of you competitive against each other? Did she have an edge being older and taller?
"No, actually I was probably taller than her. She's only 5'9'' now. I passed her up pretty early. We actually played different positions, even though I was taller. I played more guard and she was a smaller post player. So, I think it helped that we were playing different positions so we didn't always have to guard each other, because it would have gotten ugly.
"We definitely had a sibling rivalry. Sometimes we would guard each other in practice and our coach would make us switch off of each other because it was getting out of hand, but we get along pretty well. So, it was fun, and looking back, I'm glad I got to play with her."
Now you're in your senior season. Does today's commercial shoot with the kids put things in perspective for you about what the pure joy of basketball is?
"Yeah, definitely. I know it's a blessing to be here. I've known that my whole four years, and I think now that it's my last year I'm understanding that even more, just because I don't know what next year is going to bring or if this could be my last year playing or what. I don't want to take it for granted. I just want to enjoy it, and remember even though there is a lot of pressure, and obviously winning is the goal of this program, but more than that it's just a blessing to be able to be out here and to have the opportunity to play. So, I just want to try to enjoy it and not forget that."
VIDEO OF THE DAY
I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I can remember watching just about every game of the NBA Playoffs on our living room television set. After the game, I would race out to the driveway to see if I could mirror some of those special moments step-for-step. I would count down the ticks on the clock to see if I could hit the buzzer-beater, and when I missed, I gave myself an unlimited amount of do-overs to make sure I heard the crowd roaring my name at the end.
Memories sure are nice.
Looking back, one of the first memories that pops into my head is Miller Time.
I hope you enjoy these clips (even you, Knicks fan).
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30- 4:35 PM
INTERVIEW WITH FRESHMAN GUARD BRAD TINSLEY
I had the chance to sit down and talk with freshman guard Brad Tinsley on several topics prior to Wednesday's practice. As a high school senior, Tinsley was the Player of the Year in the state of Oregon, averaging 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. He is expected to contribute at both guard positions in his first season at Vanderbilt. The Commodores will open their 2008-09 campaign with a home exhibition against Alabama-Huntsville on November 9.
First off, Brad, how are things going so far at practice? "I think things are going really well. The team's coming together. Our team chemistry is really, really coming together. I think all of the guys are playing hard, and we're learning a lot of stuff because we're a young group. We're ready to get this season going."
Talk about the older members of the team working with the new guys. "I think both of our juniors George (Drake) and Jermaine (Beal) have been a great help, at least to me and I think with the team as well, just making sure guys are where they need to be, making the effort and intensity are there. I think it's been a big help to us rookies."
How's the adjustment been going from high school to college ball? "I think it's a huge jump. This might be the biggest jump, if not from the college to the pros. The fastness of the game, the intelligence and just everything that goes with it are way more intense and on a different level than high school. "
Where do you see yourself on the court this year, at the No. 1 and the No. 2 position? "Yes; both positions."
Do you feel more comfortable with either of them? "I think I feel comfortable playing both equally, whatever I have to do to make my team better I'm willing to do."
Do you see yourself logging a lot of minutes immediately? "Yeah, if that's what Coach Stallings feels that I need to do, then I'm definitely willing to step in and play some more minutes, but whatever is best for the team is fine with me."
Coach Stallings said that you could be the best shooter and passer on the team. How do you assess that, and do you think your better at one in particular? "I really don't know. I really don't pay attention to that stuff, but when it comes down to it all that matters is getting wins. You could be the best shooter, passer, best athlete on the team, but if you don't get wins it doesn't matter at all. It's a great acknowledgment for him to say that, and I'll take that and try to help my team win."
You're pretty humble right now. When you step on the court do you feel more confident with your game? "As a player in college and especially the SEC, you have to be somewhat confident in order to perform. I kind of turn it on once I get on the court, because your opponent doesn't care whether you're humble or you're cocky."
Have you had any freshmen moments that make you scratch your head yet? "Yeah, it's almost every day. As freshmen, it's pretty tough to learn all the stuff at once as we're going 100 miles per hour and the season's just around the corner. All of us are learning, we've come a long way, and I think that it'll be an awesome season."
When it's frustrating do the older guys pick you up? "Yeah, they're definitely awesome with that and just keeping us encouraged. A lot of us, including me, are making a lot of turnovers in practice, and Beal's always there to put his arm around me to say `Hey, don't worry about it. It happened to me, and it'll get better just as long as you keep working hard and learning the offense.'"
Why do you wear the No. 1? Did you have to get that number from Festus (Ezeli)? "I really didn't know what number I was going to be. I was No. 4 in high school, and I kind of wanted to change when I got into college. So, I just picked No. 1. There's no significance to it, and I think Festus wanted to switch to No. 3 before I picked mine."
Why did you choose to come to Vanderbilt? "I think the biggest reason was the coaching staff. I really had a strong connection with the coaching staff, every single one of them. And then when I got here, I felt another strong connection with the players, and it just went from there."
How's the adjustment going from Oregon to Tennessee? "It's been a huge adjustment. The South is a polar opposite from the Northwest, but it's been a great transition. All of the guys and the coaches have helped me all the way through it. It's a lot different. I haven't really been around the East coast or the South, unless it was for an AAU tournament or something. So, it's definitely a big transition, but I think I'm handling it well."
What do you miss most about back home? "My family."
Can you see them making the trip down here? "Yeah, my parents are trying to get a house, and stay for the season. So, that would be nice."
You also played baseball in high school. Did you have any thoughts on playing collegiate baseball? Was there a big decision? "Maybe, there was the idea of that, but I don't even know if I'm good enough to play. It's a tough league in baseball, so I don't even know if I'm good enough or not."
The media guide says that your favorite meal to cook is shrimp alfredo. Are you a pretty good cook? "Back at home I used to try to cook once a week for my family. That was my main dish that I liked to cook. I just like providing for other people, helping other people out. It's kind of become a little bit of a hobby of mine. I'm not that good to where I could make a big-time five star meal, but I'm getting there."
Have you cooked for anyone on the team yet? "Not yet."
Coach Stallings said that there are a lot of people on the squad with an others-first attitude rather than a me-first attitude. Have you seen that? "Definitely. If you're a player, coach or just a spectator I think you can see that within the first couple of minutes of practice or a game. You can tell that there aren't any selfish guys on this team, and everyone just wants to win and contribute to the team."
What are you other hobbies off of the court? "Just hanging out with friends. Once basketball's started you don't have time for the other stuff."
What's something that Commodore fans might not know about you? "I can play the piano. I like to play the piano. I took lessons when I was younger, and that's been a little hobby of mine."
Does singing go along with it? "No, I'm a terrible singer. I just stick to the keys."
What type of music do you play? "Classical."
Who are you rooming with right now, and how has that gone? "Steve (Tchiengang). It's been awesome, especially connecting with a person from a different country. It's very humbling, and it kind of gives you a sense of how he grew up, and what different things he went through compared to what I went through. It's just awesome that we can connect with different stuff. We're best of friends, and we feel like we could tell each other anything."
Who decides what you watch on TV? "It's his TV. He had the TV in the room, but I use the controller most of the time. He's not a big TV watcher."
Finally, how excited are you for the first exhibition game? "I am crazy excited. I cannot wait. I just want to play, especially when you're deep into practice. All of the guys just want to play. I think that everyone's anxious for it, and I think we're all ready for it."
VIDEO OF THE DAY
I really wanted to see Tampa Bay and David Price win the World Series, but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be as the Rays fell to Philadelphia in five games.
The only good thing that can be taken from the loss?
I was told by a credible source that sometime during the postgame celebration, Philly's in-game music coordinator blared Sammy Hagar's "Winner Takes It All" over the loudspeakers. It's best known for being the guitar-heavy pump up song in the final scene of Stallone's arm wrestling gem Over the Top. (and you know how I feel about that movie).
I just have to say brilliant choice, man.
You could have stuck with playing generic victory songs across the board, but you didn't give in to peer pressure.
You bucked the norm and brought something much more inspiring and original.
You, my friend, are a hero.
So in honor of you, whoever you are, I now present the video of the day. I may have posted it before in an old blog, but it doesn't matter. It's worth it.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28- 4:19 PM
Talented freshman pitcher Sonny Gray made his Commodore debut in the Black and Gold series last weekend... the same weekend that the much-anticipated blockbuster High School Musical 3 hit theatres across the world.
So what does this have to do with Sonny?
Well, we all know he was a baseball star at Smyrna High School just down the road, and that he also quarterbacked his team to back to back football state championships.
But did you know that he played the lead role of Troy Bolton in his school's adaptation of the popular Disney movies?
"Back then I had long, brown hair just like he (Bolton) did in the movie," Gray remembered. "I don't know how it all happened. I got the part and then I just started singing. The singing wasn't good by any means. I like to think it was, but people tell me it wasn't. It was one of the best things I've done."
So what do his fellow Commodores think about it?
"Jason (Esposito) came over to my grandma's house and she made him sit down and watch the whole thing," Gray said with a smile. "He rags me about it a lot and so does Coach Corbin. Coach was actually there (for the performance). A lot of people give me a hard time, so I just mess with them and bust out singing every now and then. It's all fun."
You can learn more about Sonny, including why he decided to come to Vanderbilt instead of going pro, by watching an interview from last week on VUcommodores.com - click here.
Also, you can put it on your calendar that I will be going to see HSM3 this weekend with my two favorite ladies - Lauren and Ally. Who knows, maybe I'll write a review about it in a future blog for all three of my readers. To be honest, I'm just glad they aren't dragging me to this movie.
According to Graham Hays of ESPN.com, women's basketball seniors Christina Wirth and Jennifer Risper are taking a class on the history of country music this semester.
Wirth (a long-time country fan) and Risper have been best friends off the court since arriving on campus in 2005, but that doesn't mean their musical tastes have always been the same.
"I kind of like hearing all the history about that and everything that's going on with that," Risper said of the class. "I used to never, never want to listen to country music, but that's because I never really gave it a chance, either."
Read more of Hays' article by clicking here.
Also, congratulations to Christina on her preseason All-SEC First Team selection by the media, but how does Jennifer get left off both the first and second team? At the end of last season, Risper made the coaches All-SEC second-team and was on the SEC All-Defensive team. She also ranked in the conference's Top 20 in four different categories and led the overall steals category.
No disrespect to the media, but you've got to think that the coaches would have had her on the list if they had a preseason player vote.
THE NEED FOR SPEAD
Coach Johnson told the 104.5 Wake up Zone Tuesday morning that junior nickelback Darlron Spead might return for the Florida game on November 8.
Spead has missed the last six games after fracturing his lower left leg at the conclusion of an 41-yard interception return against South Carolina on September 4.
"We hope he's back," said Johnson. "We're going to try him today (at practice). He's been doing some running and he's sore but the soreness is not due to the bone healing. It's due to inactivity in his muscles, so we think he'll get over that pretty quickly. We think if we can get him going fast, that he'll have a really good chance to play against Florida."
To listen to the entire 104.5 interview with Coach Johnson, click here
And for those of you wondering what time kickoff could be for the Florida game, click here.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Well, it's official. John Oates is alive.
How do I know? Well Oates, best known as the guy with the awesome mustache from the even awesomer (yes, that's a word) duo Hall & Oates, performed the national anthem prior to Monday's rain suspended Game 5 of the World Series.
After the Philly native finished the song, I was shouting at my TV for an encore. I mean, Coldplay got to sing three songs on Saturday Night Live last weekend, maybe Major League Baseball would let the legendary Oates continue on after the anthem.
Well, that didn't happen ... but the next best thing would be a a video of the day. I hope you enjoy it. Make sure you watch how Daryl Hall does all the singing while Oates just dances inside the letters in the background. Oates does contribute an incredible cartwheel at the 3:13 mark, though.
Oh, he just released his second solo album called 1000 Miles of Life, which he recorded right here in the Music City.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24- 4:26 PM
PRICE, RAYS EVEN SERIES
David Price might be human after all.
Price surrendered his first two runs of the playoffs, including a solo homer to pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett, but was still able to close out Tampa Bay's 4-2 win over Philadelphia in Thursday's Game 2 of the World Series.
Even though things didn't go perfectly, manager Joe Madden stuck with the left-hander and the move paid off.
With the tying run at the plate in the ninth and only one out, Price was able to buckle down and retire Chase Utley and Ryan Howard - the heart of the Phillies' lineup -- to preserve the much-needed win for the Rays.
On the night, Price pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and gave up two hits while striking out two and walking one.
One superhuman stat: Left-handed hitters are 0-for-7 with five strikeouts against Price in the postseason.
As for the homer, Price quipped, "I thought Carl Crawford should have caught it."
With the series nodded at 1-1, Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. CT in Philadelphia. The game will be televised on FOX.
Freshman infielder Joe Loftus started his Commodore career with a bang last night in the Black and Gold series scrimmage opener at Hawkins Field.
With the Black team trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning, Loftus cut the deficit to one with a two-run homer off starter Caleb Cotham.
"You are always in the game no matter what and the home run kind of got us going," Loftus said. "The pitchers today were the best I ever faced and it helps us get better facing these guys."
The Black team scored two more runs in the fifth to take Game 1, 4-3.
"Lofty" is no stranger to the long ball. He holds the record at his high school -- Academy of Holy Angels -- for most homers in a single season (9) and career (25).
Fans can learn more about Joe, including his transition from Minnesota to the Music City, by watching an interview from earlier this week on VUcommodores.com - click here.
And if you'd like to check out the new freshman class that was rated second overall by Baseball America, the scrimmage will resume tonight with Game 2 at 6 p.m. CT and the finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. Admission is free.
ANOTHER IDOL ANTHEM
Kristy Lee Cook, from American Idol fame, is scheduled to sing the national anthem at Saturday's football game with Duke.
Cook, who finished seventh in the reality series seventh season, will be the second Idol alum to perform the anthem this year at Vanderbilt Stadium. Kellie Pickler, from Idol season 5, also sang the anthem at the season opener against South Carolina.
Cook currently has an album out with Arista Records called "Why Wait". If you can't wait for her performance Saturday, then make sure you're in your seat by 1:50 p.m. CT.
And for those of you coming in town for tomorrow's game against the Blue Devils, don't miss the homecoming parade starting at 10:30 a.m. at Kensington Place.
Four former Commodore standouts will serve as grand marshals of the parade - linebackers Matt Stewart and Nate Morrow, special teams ace Andrew Kerr, and SEC career receptions leader Earl Bennett.
Bennett has played in three games so far as a rookie wide receiver with Chicago this year. He was able to make the trip back to Nashville since the Bears are in a bye week.
NFL ROOKIE NEWS
Speaking of Bennett, here are some more updates on Commodores from last year's team:
Chicago rookie left tackle Chris Williams may see the first action of his professional career next week when the Bears host Detroit on November 1. Williams, the Bears top pick in the 2008 draft, suffered an injury to his lower back during the preseason and has been inactive since.
During his time off the field, Williams was able to gain some experience by observing the veterans on the roster.
"They see everything," he told the Associated Press earlier this week. "They see stuff you never even thought about looking at. Just being with that group and just being able to hear the conversations and the questions they ask about certain things, you learn a lot."
Buffalo activated linebacker Marcus Buggs off the practice squad for this week's game at Miami. Buggs will take the place of injured John DiGiorgio, who is out for the year with a torn ligament in his right knee. The Bills are in first place in the AFC East with a 5-1 record.
Also, linebacker Jonathan Goff saw his first NFL action last Sunday in the New York Giants' 29-17 win over San Francisco. After fracturing the transverse process in his back during preseason, Goff made an impact in his pro debut with two tackles on special teams. The Giants will have a big game against Pittsburgh this weekend. Both teams stand at 5-1 and lead their respective divisions.
A limited number of tickets remain for the game with Duke. All seats are $22 each, so bring your family and friends out as the Commodores try to earn six victories and bowl eligibility for the first time since 1982. Let's fill the stands with Black and Gold!
VIDEO OF THE DAY
I wanted to learn more about the Triangle, which is where Duke is located, so I emailed my good friend, Troy. This was his response:
"Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill are the Triangle. Often called the 'Research Triangle' due to the large amount of corporations (IBM and others) located in the area. The Triad or Piedmont Triad is Greensboro, High Point, and Winston Salem."
I hope that wasn't too confusing. Here's a video that's a little less confusing about triangles.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 20- 6:09 PM
Like the rest of you around the world, I was locked into my television set as Tampa Bay pitcher (and former Commodore) David Price entered a pressure-packed situation in game seven of the American League Championship Series Sunday night at Tropicana Field.
As Price took the mound, he faced a bases loaded, two-out jam in the top of the 8th inning with Tampa Bay holding a 3-1 lead over the defending champs from Boston.
I was nervous. I'll admit it.
You would think Price would be, too, right?
I mean, it was the biggest game in franchise history.
Everything was on the line for a pitcher that had only seven career appearances and thrown a total of 12 2/3 innings.
The fate of Tampa Bay's season depended on his left arm.
And Price wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
"I want the ball in those types of situations when the game's on the line," Price told the Nashville media during a teleconference on Monday. "I want that spotlight on me."
Instead of getting rattled by the moment, the 23-year old phenom made it look like a Sunday walk in the park by recording the final four outs to send the Rays to their first ever World Series appearance.
Fact of the matter is, Price has made it look easy all year long. He started the season in Single-A ball and cruised through the minors before getting called up to the majors in mid-September to help a team in the thick of a pennant race... a team that's historically been in the cellar of the AL East.
When asked if his success surprised him, Price responded emphatically `absolutely not.'
"I went 12-1 in the minors with about 19 starts. I really do expect to be 19-0 with a 0.00 ERA and not give up a hit, ever. That's just the way I was raised. I expect to win every time I touch the ball."
No doubt about it, Price's confidence is what makes him special. No matter what the situation is, he thinks he can beat you. Knock him down, and he'll come back even stronger.
He's also the ultimate team player. He has gifts most of us could only dream about, yet he's always been humble and willing to do whatever's needed.
"Whether it's throwing one pitch or 100 pitches," Price said, "anything I can do to help this team win is fine with me."
Those of you watching Sunday night's game probably thought about what happened to him the last time he took the mound at Hawkins Field against Michigan in 2007.
We all felt it was a cruel way to end the career of one of the greatest college baseball players of all-time.
But that's baseball.
And the thought of it made Sunday's performance even sweeter.
"It's just good to see a kid who left this field distraught (against Michigan) and how the game came back to him again," said Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin. "I've always told the guys that the game rewards the people who put the most time into it. When he left after that Michigan game, I felt terrible for him because he didn't deserve that moment. But the game came right back around to him, and when it mattered most in his professional career, he was doing the one thing that he dreamed of doing here and that was sitting on the bottom of the pile."
And nobody could be happier about the way it turned out than Price.
"It's awesome," he said. "It's definitely a feeling that I wouldn't trade for anything."
Check out these full-length interviews from Monday with both Price and Corbin. There's some really great stuff here.
Audio: Listen to Teleconference with Price
Audio: Corbin Talks About Price
Since Price is the theme of today's post, here are some of his highlights from the 2007 season on VUcommodores YouTube page.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13- 4:31 PM
Head coach Bobby Johnson announced Monday that junior quarterback Mackenzi Adams will likely make his first start of the season Saturday at No. 10 Georgia in place of senior Chris Nickson.
The change comes after Vanderbilt's offense had its lowest output of Coach Johnson's tenure with only 107 yards of total offense in a 17-14 loss to Mississippi State Saturday. It marked the fewest total yards produced by the Commodores since 1996 (82, vs. South Carolina, Oct. 26, 1996).
"A lot of the things that went wrong last Saturday in the first half weren't particularly Chris Nickson's fault," Johnson said. "But at the same time, when the offense wasn't doing much in the third quarter, our coaching staff felt like we had to make a change. Mackenzi came in and did a good job for us against Mississippi State, so we're going to see what he can do with it against Georgia."
Adams has provided a spark off the bench in the last two games, leading the Commodores (5-1, 3-1 SEC) on three of its four touchdown drives in limited action. He's completed 18 of 32 passes for 200 yards in those games, while senior Chris Nickson has been held to 6 of 18 for 19 yards. On the ground, the number comparisons are even, with Adams' rushing 15 times for 51 yards and Nickson gaining 47 yards on 17 carries.
Nickson was pulled at the start of the fourth quarter last week after throwing an interception that eventually led to Mississippi State's game-winning touchdown. On the following drive, Adams directed the Commodores on a 10-play, 57-yard drive that was capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jeff Jennings.
On the season, Vanderbilt ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in total offense (117th) and passing offense (116th).
"I think he will bring a fresh start to the team," Johnson added. "I think Mackenzi has demonstrated that he can sit in the pocket and that he can figure things out there on the field. He can find the open receivers and he can do a good job of hitting the receivers. I don't think there is a big drop off when you start running quarterback draws and options between our two quarterbacks. Mackenzi is a good athlete and he has shown that he can make some very fine runs this year."
In 2007, Adams started six games and finished as the team passing leader in completions (101), attempts (182) yards (1,043) and touchdowns (9). He also had success in hostile road environments, helping Vanderbilt to a victory over No. 6 South Carolina and a near win at Tennessee.
Of course, the Commodores' schedule won't get an easier this weekend as they head into Athens, Ga., to face the tenth-ranked team in the nation in front of 93,000 rowdy fans.
And with Georgia (5-1, 2-1 SEC) averaging 33 points per game, the offense will need to break out of its slump if it hopes to get back to its winning ways.
"Mackenzi came in and did a good job for us against Mississippi State, so we're going to see what he can do with it against Georgia," Johnson said. "He is a motivating young man who is a go-getter so we think he will provide a spark for us. Hopefully we can get things going on offense because we weren't very good last Saturday."
And for all of you that have struggled through your Monday work day... always remember this:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10- 11:49 PM
Before I get started on today's blog, we have officially arrived in Starkville for Saturday's matchup with the Bulldogs.
I went to Friday's walk through at Davis Wade Stadium and here are the pictures to prove it!!
VIEW GALLERY OF FRIDAY'S WALK THROUGH
Now, onto a blog on Myron Lewis
Growing up with four older brothers, junior cornerback Myron Lewis can remember the lessons he learned from his childhood football games in the backyard.
"They used to rough me up a lot," Lewis recalled of his siblings, "so I used to work hard to try to be like them. As they got older and I got older they just passed the torch down to me, and they taught me everything they learned."
If I had to imagine, these probably weren't your ordinary neighborhood football contests. Two of his brothers, Hanik and Hamin, went on to play football in the NFL, so you know the battles had to be competitive and intense.
Fast forward several years later and it's easy to see why those encounters helped Lewis develop into one of the top cornerbacks in the SEC.
In only his second season as a starter, Lewis has already set single-season highs in interceptions (2), sacks (3) and tackles for loss (4) to help the Commodores (5-0, 3-0 SEC) race out to its best start since 1943.
"I'm just being smarter on the football field," Lewis said, "and I'm a year older in playing experience."
The Pompano Beach, Fla., native has been a key cog in a veteran secondary that's wreaked havoc on opponents this year. Each of the four starters in the secondary have recorded at least two interceptions apiece while the team ranks second in the nation with 11 interceptions overall.
"D.J. (Moore) and I try to be the best two corners in the nation," remarked Lewis. "We have two of the best safeties out there, too. Our secondary, we're the oldest unit on the defense, so everybody looks up to us and looks for us to make a big play throughout the game."
No doubt about it, the Commodore defense has thrived on making big plays in big situations. Vanderbilt leads the NCAA FBS in turnover margin (+9) and ranks first in the SEC in red zone defense, giving up only five touchdowns in 13 opportunities.
Lewis' late interception sealed Vanderbilt's first win over Auburn in 53 years.
"I knew that we had to go out there and make a play," Lewis said. "I read the play the whole way. The receiver came off the line and ran an out and up and I saw it the whole way. I turned around with him, saw the ball in the air and picked it off."
While the defense has been able to close out opponents, they've still given up 54 of their 81 points in the opening quarter. Against the Tigers, the defense allowed two passing touchdowns to fall behind 13-0 to start the game.
But rather than getting frustrated with the early deficits, the defense has been able to regroup and refocus without hesitation. In fact, in the last three games, the Commodores haven't allowed a point in the second half. They held Auburn to only 82 yards and six first downs over the final three quarters.
"We just try to be calm and keep our poise. There's four quarters in the game. There's a lot of time out there, so we go out there and just keep working hard."
And even though he's turned into a standout college athlete, Lewis still gets regular reminders from his older brothers about his performance on the gridiron.
"I talk to them before every game and after the game. They'll shoot me text messages telling me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong, so everything's cool with them."
And for those of you trying to reach me at my home phone in Nashville, this is what you might get:
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7- 3:28 PM
Oh, man. What a weekend. I can't say much more than what's already been said.
It definitely was a memorable time for everyone around the world that bleeds black and gold... and I, like the rest of you, am proud to be a Commodore.
To shift focus a little bit, can you believe that men's basketball practice starts next Friday?
I received emails from fans that wanted to see photos of the Commodores' heralded incoming class. Thanks to photographers John Russell and Steve Green, not only do we have new pictures of the freshmen, but also the rest of the team in all three versions of their new Nike uniforms.
VIEW BASKETBALL PHOTO GALLERY
And if you're thinking about ordering season tickets, don't wait too long. Click Here for all the info you need.
Finally, a clip of the day. Video games sure have come a long way since I was a kid. And check out the customer in the commercial.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3- 11:57 PM
Following Friday afternoon's ESPN College GameDay taping at The Commons on campus, analyst Lee Corso wasted no time pointing out how great the turn out was by Commodore fans.
"I think at Georgia (last week) we may have had 15 or 20 people on Friday. I think it's the best Friday crowd we've ever had. It shows that the enthusiasm is here for football."
Count colleague Kirk Herbstreit as also being impressed.
"This was spectacular," remarked Herbstreit. "For them to turn out I think just shows the excitement they have for their team. This gives the Vanderbilt fans a chance to showcase their football program for the first time in a long time and let the nation know that Vanderbilt and Bobby Johnson are doing a great job."
The Commodore Nation took advantage of the opportunity by showing up in big numbers Friday to be a part of college football's most popular show.
After waiting over an hour for the crew to tape their first segment for SportsCenter, the students erupted when Corso hit the stage and proudly flashed the V-U hand signal from the Home Depot set. Herbstreit followed Corso a few minutes later to a chorus of jeers, due to the fact he left the No. 19 Commodores out of his AP Top 25 ballot earlier in the week.
The crowd did warm up to Kirk later when he joined Corso in the V-U chant. Chris Fowler also revved up the audience by thanking them for their support and asked everyone to keep the excitement going by returning to Saturday morning's show.
And if Friday's crowd was any indication about the excitement around the football program right now, then I'd expect a capacity crowd pumped with electricity for Saturday morning's show.
Being at the event Friday was definitely something I'll never forget and Saturday will be the same. So fans, do whatever you can to come out and show the world we are behind our University and our athletics teams. Gates will open at 7 a.m. CT with tapings starting at 8 a.m. The actual GameDay show will begin at 9 a.m. CT.
If you need directions on how to get to the show, click here.
Also, check out two photo galleries in case you were out of town and didn't get to join in on the hoopla:
1 - John Russell's Friday GameDay Photo Gallery
2 - Brandon Barca's Friday GameDay Photo Gallery
Finally, I grabbed some audio from Herbstreit's press conference including his take on the Commodores football team. Listen to Herbstreit Interview
See you on campus Saturday wearing black and gold!
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3- 11:07 AM
The ESPN College GameDay show has officially set up shop at The Commons on campus!
I stopped by there yesterday afternoon to check it out. Here are a few pictures:
View GameDay Photo Gallery
Fans are encouraged to come by the set from 3:30-3:50 p.m. CT Friday and 8-11 a.m. Saturday. If you have any questions about the event (timeline, directions, parking, etc.), then Click Here for detailed instructions.
ESPN coming to West End isn't the only big news around here.
I was able to do something yesterday for the first time ever... attend a boxing press conference.
Did I have to go to Vegas to do it?
Nope, I just went down the McGugin stairwell to the Hendrix room to listen to super middleweights Jermain Taylor and Jeff Lacy talk about their bout, which will be televised live by HBO on Nov. 15 from Memorial Gym.
That's right, Memorial Gym.
The venue was decided on after Taylor's home arena in North Little Rock, Ark., was already booked for a Reba McEntire concert. Promoters say Nashville was a new and exciting place to bring an event of this stature.
And don't be fooled. This isn't some club fight between two over-the-hill boxers. Taylor (27-2-1, 17 KOs) is a former middleweight world champion while Lacy's (24-1, 17 KOs) only defeat came at the hands of one of the best fighters in the world in Joe Calzaghe.
The fight has been coined `All or Nothing'. The stakes are high with the winner guaranteed a WBC super middleweight title shot.
While I've never watched Lacy in the ring on television, I've seen Taylor several times and you're in for a treat. He doesn't shy away from getting hit and packs a powerful punch that would be great to see ringside.
When I first heard about the press conference, I imagined it was going to be an hour filled with verbal jabs between fighters with a high possibility of chairs being thrown during a melee (you know, the ones you see on ESPN).
The media event was nothing like that (foolish me). And actually, there didn't seem to be any animosity between the two fighters. They were even joking and smiling during the stare down.
To give you a little background, Taylor and Lacy were childhood friends and even represented the United States during the 2000 Olympics (Taylor won the bronze). The promoters downplayed the friendship and promised that even though the guys are close, that someone would be knocked out come fight night.
This will be a must-see event and will mark the first time HBO will televise a boxing card from Nashville. And it should be noted that former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines played a big role in bringing the match to campus.
There will also be fights on the undercard with Murfreesboro, Tenn., native Adam "Swamp Donkey" Richards taking on heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon. Also, former welterweight champion Kermit Cintron will be fighting Lovemore N'Dou.
Tickets will be on sale October 10 at all Ticketmaster locations. Prices range from $25-$275.
Here are some pictures from the press conference: View Boxing Photos
To close today's entry, I'll post another video.
Anybody who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the Rocky movies. I'll even watch some of Rocky V if I come across it on WGN, so you know I gotta show a clip!
This part of Rocky IV always gets me fired up. ALWAYS.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1- 9:32 PM
Congratulations to former Commodore Jay Cutler for being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month for September.
In only his third year with the Broncos, Cutler has emerged as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.
Just look at the stats.
With Denver atop the AFC West at 3-1, Cutler has piled up impressive numbers including 1,275 passing yards and 102 completions to lead the AFC in both categories.
If Cutler were able to keep up this amazing pace, he'd have a shot at breaking Dan Marino's single-season NFL record of 5,084 yards established in 1984.
Sure, the Broncos would like to see a decline in the amount of points given up by its defense so Cutler wouldn't have to throw it as much, but it's still fun to marvel at how quickly he's been able to excel at the pro level.
In a recent article by Jim Corbett from USA TODAY, Denver's standout wide receiver Brandon Marshall had nothing but praise for Cutler.
"Sometimes you get guys who can make big plays, run fast and throw hard," said Marshall.
"But very seldom do you get a package of a guy who can do all that and can read coverages and tell everyone what they've got on every single play. He's a special guy. And he's our guy forever."
Best of luck to Jay. And in case you're wondering if he's keeping up with the Commodores' 4-0 start, then check out this recent quote he gave when asked if it was hard for a Vanderbilt graduate to wear orange for the Broncos.
"It is," Cutler said. "I had to get used to orange, especially orange hats. Vandy is 4-0 - What are we (ranked No.) 19 right now? The coaches over there are great. They are doing a great job. The talent has gotten better and better each and every year, so I'm happy for them. I talk to (Co-Passing Game Coordinator & Quarterbacks) Coach (Jimmy) Kiser every week, and I'm thrilled for them. Hopefully they can keep it going."
In other news about former Commodores, David Price is expected to make the Tampa Bay Rays final 25-man postseason roster.
We won't officially know until Thursday's 9 a.m. CT deadline, but word is that he could serve as a long reliever in the Rays' American League Division Series against the Chicago White Sox, which starts Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT.
According to the Rays official site, Manager Joe Madden will go with 10 pitchers on the roster, with the final spot going to either Price or veteran closer Troy Percival, who's fought injuries throughout the season.
We'll see how it all plays out. Keep your fingers crossed for David.
Finally, I'll close with a video of the day. AT sent this one to me. Enjoy!