Feb. 13, 2014
Four senior standouts from Vanderbilt's 9-4 BBVA Compass Bowl championship squad are expected to participate in the National Football League Scouting Combine later this month.
The Combine serves as an annual showcase for more than 300 of the nation's top draft-eligible prospects to coaches, general managers, scouts and talent evaluators representing all 32 NFL teams. All participating players are put through three days of activities ranging from official measurements, medical examinations and individual interviews to on-field drills and an array of timing, agility and strength tests.
Hal, Johnson, Ladler and Matthews will match the record for most Vanderbilt participants since 2000. Four Commodores also participated at the Combine in 2008 (receiver Earl Bennett, defensive end Curtis Gatewood, linebacker Jonathan Goff and offensive tackle Chris Williams) and 2001 (tight end Elliott Carson, linebackers Matt Stewart and Jamie Winborn, and cornerback Jimmy Williams).
While Hal, Johnson, Ladler and Matthews prepare for the Combine at different training locations across the country, at least nine other senior standouts from the 2013 squad are working out in Nashville gearing up for Vanderbilt Pro Day activities on March 21. Likely pro day participants include cornerback Steven Clarke, linebackers Karl Butler and Chase Garnham, wide receiver Jonathan Krause, safety Javon Marshall, defensive end Walker May, defensive tackle Jared Morse, placekicker Carey Spear and running back Wesley Tate.
Since the BBVA Compass Bowl, the four `Dore invitees have been working out at different locations that specialize in pre-Combine training: Hal in Pensacola, Fla., Johnson in Orange County, Calif., Ladler in North Miami, and Matthews in Phoenix, Ariz.
The four Combine participants are coming off superb senior campaigns for the Commodores. All four received All-Southeastern Conference recognition following the program's second straight 9-4 campaign capped by a postseason victory.
Hal, a two-year starter from Port Allen, La., topped the SEC with 18 passes defended. A two-time All-SEC pick, Hal closed his Vanderbilt career with a sensational performance in the Commodores' bowl victory over Houston, contributing an interceptions, three passes defended and nine tackles.
Johnson, from Nashville, established a new team record with 51 consecutive starts on the Commodore offensive line. A Coaches' First Team All-SEC pick in 2013, Johnson the league's offensive lineman of the week honors on four occasions. His career included 198 knockdown blocks and 172 blocks that led directly to Commodore scores or first downs.
Ladler, from Stone Mountain, Ga., ranked among the SEC leaders in multiple defensive categories as a senior, earning First Team All-SEC recognition from the coaches. He topped the league with five forced fumbles and ranked among the conference's top three defenders with 65 solo tackles and five interceptions.
Matthews, a product of Madison, Ala., was a consensus two-time All-SEC selection who was named to multiple All-America squads. Matthews concluded his career as arguably the SEC's most productive receiver. After setting a league record with 112 catches as a senior, Matthews ended his career by amassing SEC career marks of 262 receptions and 3,759 receiving yards.
All four standouts also appeared in postseason showcases for collegiate seniors: Johnson, Ladler and Matthews playing in the 64th Reese's Senior Bowl, and Hal participating in the 89th annual East-West Shrine Game.
Coverage of the Combine will be featured on the NFL Network, starting daily at 8 p.m. NFL.com also will provide thorough web coverage.
Combine Schedule for the Four `Dores
Johnson will be among the first Combine participants. Joining other offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists, Johnson's official measurement and several one-on-one interviews with teams is scheduled Feb. 20, followed by psychological testing, media interviews and the first physical test - bench press repetition of 225 pounds - coming on Feb. 21. He will conclude with numerous speed, agility and position drills on Feb. 22.
Matthews will be in the next group of participants - quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers - that conclude their three days of activities on Feb. 23. Hal and Ladler, along with other cornerbacks and safeties, will conclude their activities on Feb. 25.
List of Vanderbilt Players at NFL Combine Since 2000
2014 Andre Hal (CB), Wesley Johnson (OL), Kenny Ladler (safety), Jordan Matthews (WR)
2013 Zac Stacy (RB)
2012 Casey Hayward (CB), Sean Richardson (safety)
2010 Myron Lewis (CB), Thomas Welch (OL)
2009 D.J. Moore (CB)
2008 Earl Bennett (WR), Curtis Gatewood (DE/LB), Jonathan Goff (LB), Chris Williams (OL)
2006 Jay Cutler (QB)
2005 Jovan Haye (DL), Justin Geisinger (OL)
2003 Hunter Hillenmeyer (LB)
2002 Lew Thomas (RB), Greg Zolman (QB)
2001 Elliott Carson (TE), Matt Stewart (LB), Jimmy Williams (CB), Jamie Winborn (LB)