Jan. 17, 2014
Seven standout seniors from Vanderbilt’s 9-4 BBVA Compass Bowl champion squad are making appearances in postseason showcases. This includes All-Southeastern Conference cornerback Andre Hal, who will play in the 89th annual East-West Shrine Game on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Hal, a two-time All-SEC recipient who finished his career with a superb performance in Vanderbilt’s 41-24 bowl win over Houston, will play for the East squad in the East-West Shrine Game, scheduled to kick Saturday at 3 p.m., CT, from Tropicana Field. The game will air on the NFL Network.
Next weekend, three Commodore All-SEC recipients from this season – offensive tackle Wesley Johnson, safety Kenny Ladler and wide receiver Jordan Matthews – will appear in the 64th Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. All three will play for the South squad.
Two-year starting safety Javon Marshall also is scheduled to appear in the College All-Star Bowl, played Feb. 14 in Greenville, S.C.
Two other senior starters from the 2013 squad, wide receiver Jonathan Krause and cornerback Steven Clarke, participated in the Medal of Honor Bowl, played Jan. 11 in Charleston, S.C. Participating on the National team, Krause posted two receptions while Clarke contributed a pair of tackles.
Postseason all-star contests serve as excellent opportunities for seniors to showcase their skills in front of scouts representing all 32 National Football League teams, with performances in pre-event practices frequently proving as important as the actual game.
Hal, from Port Allen, La., is projected to start at cornerback for the East squad. As a senior, Hal posted a single-season high with three interceptions and set a modern team record with an SEC-leading 18 passes defended. In the BBVA Compass Bowl, Hal made the game-sealing interception and career-high four defensed passes in addition to nine tackles.
This will mark the second straight year that Vanderbilt is represented in the East-West Shrine Game. In 2013, running back Zac Stacy and cornerback Trey Wilson were participants, with Stacy eventually getting drafted by the St. Louis Rams and Wilson getting signed as a free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With Johnson, Ladler and Matthews, Vanderbilt will have its second-highest player total in the Senior Bowl. The most Commodores in the prestigious game came in 1950 when linemen Van Brown and Carl Copp, running back Herb Rich and quarterback Jamie Wade participated.
Johnson, from Nashville, Tenn., earned First Team All-SEC honors as a senior and finished his career holding the team record with 51 consecutive starts.
Ladler, from Stone Mountain, Ga., earned First Team All-SEC honors as a senior from the Associated Press after leading the league with five forced fumbles, ranking second with five interceptions and ninth with 91 total tackles.
Matthews, from Madison, Ala., finished his career as the most prolific receiver in SEC history. A consensus First Team All-SEC pick named to numerous All-America squads as a senior, Matthews established new SEC career records with 262 receptions and 3,759 receiving yards. His 24 career touchdown catches also ranks as a team record.
Marshall, from Huber Heights, Ohio, was a two-year defensive captain and leader in the Commodore secondary. He finished the 2013 season with 80 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
Commodores Participating in Postseason Games
East-West Shrine Game
Andre Hal (CB)
St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 18, 3 p.m., CT, NFL Network
Reese’s Senior Bowl
Wesley Johnson (OT), Kenny Ladler (safety), Jordan Matthews (WR)
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala., Jan. 25, 3 pm., CT, NFL Network
College All-Star Bowl
Javon Marshall (safety)
Paladin Stadium, Greenville, S.C., Feb. 14, 5 p.m., CT, CBS Sports Network