April 26, 2009
Updated 10:02 p.m. CT
New York City - D.J. Moore became the first Vanderbilt cornerback taken in the NFL Draft in eight years when the Chicago Bears took the versatile playmaker with the 119th overall pick.
While Moore was the only Commodore selected in the NFL Draft, defensive standout Reshard Langford agreed late Sunday to a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Moore, the first Vanderbilt All-American defensive back in more than two decades, was a three-year starter who dazzled as a cornerback, receiver and return specialist during the 2008 season. He finished the year ranked among the national leaders with six interceptions and a punt return average of 14.4 yards.
No Vanderbilt defensive player has been taken higher than Moore since linebacker Jamie Winborn was selected 48th overall in the 2001 Draft. The last Commodore defensive back picked higher than Moore was Fred Vinson, who went to Green Bay in the second round of the 1999 draft.
Moore also joins a collection of Commodores on the Bears' roster, including the recently acquired quarterback Jay Cutler, offensive tackle Williams, receiver Earl Bennett and veteran linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer.
Vanderbilt Head Coach Bobby Johnson was pleased for Moore, a multi-sport talent Johnson and the Commodore coaches recruited out of Broome High School in Spartanburg, S.C.
"I'm happy for D.J., and I think he will become a tremendous player for the Bears," Johnson said. "D.J. is a tremendous talent that put together three fantastic years for the Commodores.
"D.J. is a special football player, a young man who possesses excellent skills. He was one of those guys that always seemed to be around the ball and make plays. He also offers a rare versatility as a football player, a guy that can do virtually anything he wants to on the field," Johnson said.
Several other Commodore standouts from the 2008 season, including four-year starting safety Reshard Langford, receivers George Smith and Sean Walker, placekicker Bryant Hahnfeldt and quarterback Chris Nickson, have hopes of continuing their football careers in the NFL.
In 2008, Moore earned consensus All-Southeastern Conference honors helping Vanderbilt to a 7-6 overall record and their first postseason victory in 26 years. Concluding with 58 tackles and six picks, Moore garnered All-American honors from the Associated Press, Sporting News, SI.com and Rivals.com.
Moore showed his versatility through the year. His return and rushing skills were on display early in the season during Vanderbilt wins over Miami (Ohio) and Rice. Later in the year, he put on a rare show in Vanderbilt's bowl-clinching victory at Kentucky, becoming the first player in recent NCAA history to catch two touchdown passes and register two interceptions in the same game.
He finished his career tied for second among Commodores with 13 interceptions. He also posted 120 solo tackles, four fumble recoveries and 19 defensed passes in his career.
Langford, from Tanner, Ala., has been one of the Commodores' top leaders and defensive performers since becoming a safety starter as a redshirt freshman. By the end of his career, he had started 48 consecutive games, the most ever by a Vanderbilt defensive back.
As a second-year captain in 2008, Langford set single-season career highs with 49 solo tackles and 76 total tackles. He also matched his previous best with three interceptions, returning one pick 42 yards for a touchdown against Tennessee.
Coach Johnson also praised Langford's career and what he meant to the Commodore program.
"Reshard will make a huge impression on the Philadelphia coaches with his talent, effort and desire to help in whatever way he can," Johnson said. "He was tremendous here, both on and off the field. Reshard Langford is one of those guys you build winning teams around."
At a recent banquet honoring the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl champion Commodores, Langford received the team's top honor, walking away with the Vanderbilt Hustle Award. When he accepted the award, Langford received a standing ovation from his teammates.
Langford finished his career as the active team leader with 169 solo tackles and 247 total tackles. He also ranks among the Vanderbilt all-time Top Ten with 11 career interceptions.
Several other former Commodores with NFL ambitions were waiting to hear from squads regarding possible free agent deals.