June 4, 2013
Ten Commodores, topped by wide receiver Jordan Matthews, cornerback Andre Hal and placekicker Carey Spear, have been named to Phil Steele's 2013 Preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams, the Cleveland, Ohio-based publication announced today.
Matthews, Hal and Spear were named as first team recipients by the highly respected football magazine. They were joined by offensive tackle Wesley Johnson, second team All-SEC; wide receiver Chris Boyd, safety Kenny Ladler and punt return specialist Jonathan Krause, third team All-SEC selections; and defensive end Walker May, linebacker Karl Butler and linebacker Chase Garnham, fourth team All-SEC picks.
Vanderbilt is coming off a 9-4 campaign in 2012 that ended with a victory over N.C. State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl last New Year's Eve. The nine victories matched a school record and were the most on the Vanderbilt campus since the World War I era.
The Commodores open this season with an important Southeastern Conference game against perennial SEC West rival Ole Miss on Thursday, Aug. 29. The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m., CT in Nashville on ESPN. Season tickets remain available, either by phone at (615) 322-GOLD (4653) or online.
Matthews, from Madison, Ala., enters his final season as a serious candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation's leading receiver. Matthews is coming off a sensational season when he registered 94 catches for 1,343 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He is within striking distance of virtually every Vanderbilt and SEC career receiving record.
Hal, from Port Allen, La., is an early candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. He was a second team All-SEC pick by Associated Press sportswriters last year after an excellent junior season when he ranked among the SEC leaders with 14 passes defended.
Spear, from Mayfield Village, Ohio, is up for Lou Groza Award consideration. He set several team kicking records as a junior in 2012, including converting 20 field goals. Like Hal, Spear was named second team All-SEC by sportswriters.
Johnson, from Nashville, ranks among the SEC's top offensive linemen. A 38-game career starter, Johnson did not allow a single quarterback sack last year and has never been flagged for a holding penalty during his Commodore career.
Boyd, a redshirt junior from Roswell, Ga., had 50 catches for 774 yards last year. Ladler, from Stone Mountain, Ga., ranks as the co-leader among returning SEC safeties with 90 total tackles. Krause, from Snellville, Ga., averaged 11.2 yards per punt return in 2012, returning a pair for touchdowns.
May, from Birmingham, Ala., posted 11 tackles for loss and three sacks as a redshirt junior captain in 2012. Garnham, a senior from Fairhope, Ala., and Butler, a senior from LaPlace, La., rank among the leading tackles for the Commodores from their linebacker positions.
Phil Steele's 2013 College Football Preview is expected to hit newsstands in mid-June.