May 19, 2014
New York City - Vanderbilt senior Joe Townsend has been named as a preseason candidate for the 2014 Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's outstanding center.
Townsend, a product of Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School, has started 20 consecutive games on the Commodore offensive line, helping Vanderbilt to a pair of 9-4 campaigns in 2012 and 2013.
Townsend has 22 career starts, the most of any active Commodore. Townsend is one of 10 centers from the Southeastern Conference included on the 64-player Rimington Trophy watch list.
He also becomes the first Commodore center named as a preseason Rimington candidate since Bradley Vierling was listed in 2009.
Regarded among the SEC's most physical centers, Townsend was credited with 32 knockdown blocks last year. He also contributed 21 blocks that led directly to Commodore touchdowns or first downs.
Townsend became a starter as a sophomore in 2012. His performance that season was highlighted by a 10-knockdown block effort against Auburn that resulted in SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week recognition.
The Commodores have enjoyed outstanding team success during Townsend's current starts streak, going 16-4 over the last 20 games. The record includes win streaks of six games to conclude the 2012 season and five games to end the 2013 campaign.
Townsend is also one of five Commodore offensive linemen returning for the upcoming season with starting experience in multiple games. Right guard Spencer Pulley joined Townsend as a 13-game starter last year, while and left guard Jake Bernstein earned 11 starts. Andrew Jelks started nine games at right tackle en route to Freshman All-SEC recognition last year. Another tackle, Andrew Bridges, started three games last year and has 17 career starts.
The Commodores under first-year Head Coach Derek Mason open the season by hosting Temple on Thursday, Aug. 28 on campus. The opener starts at 8:15 p.m. Other home games include Ole Miss at LP Field in Nashville on Sept. 6, Massachusetts on Sept. 13, South Carolina on Sept. 20, Charleston Southern on Oct. 11, Old Dominion on Nov. 1, Florida on Nov. 8 and Tennessee on Nov. 29.
Season tickets to the Vanderbilt home schedule are available, either by calling (615) 322-GOLD or via the program's official website, vucommodores.com.
More information on the Rimington Trophy preseason watch list is available at rimingtontrophy.com.