NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Three-year starting safety Reshard Langford, veteran offensive lineman Bradley Vierling and senior wide receiver George Smith have been elected 2008 captains by their Commodore football squad teammates.
Head Coach Bobby Johnson publicly announced the selection of Langford, a redshirt senior from Tanner, Ala.; Vierling, a redshirt junior from Warminster, Pa.; and Smith, a sixth-year senior from Pembroke Hills, Fla., during a press conference held Tuesday in McGugin Center. Johnson initially told the Vanderbilt squad during a luncheon after the Black and Gold Scrimmage.
Langford has never missed a start in the Commodore secondary, and enters his final campaign having started 35 consecutive games. Vierling will start his first year at center next season after playing multiple line positions 2006-07. Smith has started 25 games, returning in 2008 as the team's active leader in receptions and receiving yards.
The Commodores open the 2008 season with a road trip to Miami (Ohio) University on Thursday, Aug. 28. Vanderbilt's six-game home schedule, which features Southeastern Conference games against South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Auburn, will start Thursday, Sept. 4, versus Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.
Johnson strongly endorsed the result of his squad's captaincy vote. Every member of the team voted for both offensive and defensive captains.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the players' decision," Johnson said. "We're talking about three players that are excellent leaders for our team, great representatives for the university, and key guys to our eventual success as a football team. Since the 2007 season ended, Reshard, Bradley and George have demonstrated the traits you want to see in your captains."
The announcement is another remarkable achievement and accomplishment in Smith's career as a Commodore. Four years ago this month, Smith was lying helpless in an Florida hospital intensive care room, from the affects of a rare neurological disorder. The ailment, acute transverse myelitis, caused swelling to Smith's spinal cord, resulting in temporary paralysis. He was bedridden for most of a month, regaining movement only after repeated blood transfusion procedures.
After months recuperating in Florida - and a semester away from classes - Smith returned to Vanderbilt to begin the slow process of returning to the Commodore squad. It took Smith more than a year to regain full strength and more than 30 pounds lost in the illness before doctors okayed his return to full contact on the football field. Since his return, Smith has caught 76 passes, good for nearly 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns, at wide receiver.
Langford has been a punishing presence in the Commodore secondary since the first game of the 2005 season. The leader of a unit that returns all four starters from a year ago, including All-SEC cornerback D.J. Moore, Langford is the team's active career leader with 120 solo tackles, 170 total stops and eight interceptions.
Vierling will guide the youthful offensive line. The Commodores will replace all five starters lost to graduation, including likely NFL first-round draft pick Chris Williams. Of the returning Vanderbilt offensive linemen, Vierling and fellow redshirt junior Ryan Custer are the most experienced. A smart, yet aggressive player, he averaged nearly 30 snaps last year while playing guard and center.