Matthews, Hal, Spears, Johnson on Coaches' Preseason All-SEC Team
Aug 22, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - For the first time in recent years, three Commodore standouts have earned preseason First-Team All-Southeastern Conference recognition from the league's 14 head coaches.
The coaches' ballot, announced today by league officials, includes Jordan Matthews (Sr., WR), Andre Hal (Sr., CB) and Carey Spear (Sr., PK) as first team recipients. A fourth Commodore, Wesley Johnson (R-Sr., OT) also was named as a Second-Team All-SEC member by the coaches.
This marks the most Commodores to be recognized in the coaches' preseason ballot since 2009 when five Vanderbilt players - linebackers Patrick Benoist and Chris Marve, cornerback Myron Lewis, punter Brett Upson and safety Ryan Hamilton - were named. None of the 2009 performers were first team recipients.
Earlier during the summer, the four Commodore seniors were named as preseason candidates for prestigious individual awards: Matthews, Biletnikoff and Maxwell awards; Hal, Jim Thorpe Award; Spear, Lou Groza Award; and Johnson, Outland and Lombardi Awards. All four also were recently voted as co-captains for the 2013 squad.
Matthews is one of the SEC's most prolific receivers. He enters his final season with 150 career catches, 2,290 receiving yards and 17 touchdown receptions. He is coming off one of the greatest individual seasons ever by a receiver in the league, hauling in 94 passes for 1,343 yards and eight touchdowns. The 2012 reception yardage total ranks as a Commodore team record and among the top five single-season totals in SEC history.
Matthews, a product of Madison (Ala.) Academy, appears within striking distance of several SEC all-time receiving records. He needs 87 catches and less than 900 receiving yards to rewrite the conference's career marks.
Spear, from Mayfield Village, Ohio, is coming off the best season ever by a Commodore placekicker. As a junior, he earned second team All-SEC honors after converting 20-of-24 field goals, including all 14 attempts inside 43 yards. Spear's 20 field goals established a new single-season team record.
Hal, from Port Allen, La., is the latest in a long line of outstanding Commodore cornerbacks. As a first-time starter in 2012, he collected 16 defensed passes. He also nabbed two interceptions, both coming in Vanderbilt's 41-18 victory over Tennessee. Hal enters the season as the league's active leader in defensed passes.
Johnson, from Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, has started 38 consecutive games as a three-year offensive lineman. Johnson is regarded among the league's top left tackles, but also has earned starts at center, guard and right tackle.
As a junior, Johnson did not allow a single quarterback sack playing center, guard and tackle. Remarkably, Johnson has not been called for a single holding penalty in his Vanderbilt career.
The Commodores, coming off a 9-4 campaign and victory in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, will open the season in one week by hosting Ole Miss before a national television audience. Season tickets remain available for the Commodores' seven-game home schedule.
The 2013 SEC Coaches Pre-Season All-SEC Football Team is listed below: