March 23, 2013
NASHVILLE - Two seniors who participated in Pro Day activities earlier in the day, quarterback Jordan Rodgers and running back Zac Stacy, were recipients of top awards Friday at the Vanderbilt Senior Celebration.
Rodgers, a two-year starter from Chico, Calif., received the Star V Award, given in recognition of the team's 2012 Most Valuable Player. Stacy, the Commodores' record-breaking rusher from Centreville, Ala., was presented with the team's Black and Gold Award, honoring a players' career contribution to Vanderbilt Football.
Rodgers and Stacy were among 21 standouts from the 2012 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl championship squad to receive individual recognition from Head Coach James Franklin at the celebration, held at Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.
The banquet also honored 23 senior student-athletes who left a remarkable mark on the Commodore program. Members of the senior class participated in three bowls, earned two postseason wins and played vital roles on the first Vanderbilt teams to earn back-to-back bowl appearances. The team's 9-4 overall record in 2012 ties a school record for victories dating back nearly 100 years.
Franklin praised the class for their willingness to accept new coaching staff in 2011, their outstanding performance on the field, and their leadership to the program and Vanderbilt University on and off the gridiron.
"I'm really, really proud of these guys," Franklin told the capacity audience. "I can't express how much we greatly appreciate everything you have done for this football program and Vanderbilt University."
Rodgers earned the team's overall MVP honors. He ended the season by setting career highs with 15 touchdown passes and 2,539 passing yards while completing 60 percent of his pass attempts. Rodgers also played stellar football during the team's seven-game win streak to conclude the season.
Stacy was honored for his career contribution to the program. During a four-year career, Stacy became the team's all-time leader with 3,145 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns. He also became the first Commodore running back to produce back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and was named MVP after his outstanding performance in the 2012 Music City Bowl win.
Other team awards announced at the banquet include:
Offensive MVP Award: Stacy and junior wide receiver Jordan Matthews were co-recipients
Defensive MVP Award: Junior cornerback Andre Hal
Special Forces Player of the Year Award for top specialists: Senior punter Richard Kent and junior placekicker Carey Spear were co-recipients
Core Values Award: Senior defensive end Johnell Thomas
Ultimate Teammate Award: Senior running back Warren Norman
Commodore Defensive Unsung Hero Award: Senior defensive tackle Colt Nichter
Commodore Offensive Unsung Hero Award: Redshirt sophomore receiver Chris Boyd and redshirt senior offensive lineman Ryan Seymour were co-recipients
Anchor Award - Defensive Lineman of the Year: Redshirt sophomore defensive end Kyle Woestmann
Anchor Award - Offensive Lineman of the Year: Redshirt junior offensive tackle/center Wesley Johnson
Iron Dore Award (effort in the weight room): Woestmann
Defensive Scout of the Year Award: Freshman linebacker Ja'karri Thomas
Offensive Scout of the Year Award: Freshman wide receiver Tip McKenzie
Highest GPA for the 2012 season: Junior fullback Fitz Lassing
Highest GPA for a career: Sophomore defensive back Alex Hysong
Public Service Award: Redshirt senior placekicker Ryan Fowler
The program also acknowledged support staff and contributors to the Commodores. Academic Center Director Elizabeth Wright received the Support Staffer of the Year while J.R. and Kailey Hand received the Distinguished Contributor Award. Four women who tailgate at every home game and attend Coach Franklin's radio show on a weekly basis--Julie Cassidy, Ben McManimie, Tammy Motley and Judy Wallace--shared Vanderbilt Football Fan of the Year honors.
Franklin opened the festivities by praising the team's eight co-captains: Rodgers, Stacy, Spear, Thomas, Johnson, redshirt junior defensive end Walker May, redshirt senior linebacker Archibald Barnes and redshirt junior safety Javon Marshall.
The team's seniors were introduced individually: Stacy, Norman, cornerback Trey Wilson, Rodgers, quarterback John Townsley, Barnes, cornerback Eddie Foster, defensive back-safety Eric Samuels, linebacker Blake Southerland, fullback Marc Panu, defensive back Manny Amingwa, Fowler, linebacker Robby Barbieri, Nichter, Seymour, offensive guard Josh Jelesky, wide receiver John Cole, defensive tackle Rob Lohr, tight end Mason Johnston, tight end Austin Monahan, Kent, Thomas and defensive end Thad McHaney.