Theron Kadri is a man who looks like he’s been here before. Whether the junior defensive end is discussing football, life, or his second chance, he does not cower, does not shake, does not break. The same could be said for his play this season, because—when confronted by a blocker—Kadri does what he has learned to do so well: overpower the obstacle.
“I guess I just had to mature a little bit,” Kadri said. “Nothing’s really changed, I just kept working and kept listening to what my coach said…Then, eventually, what he said started to get through to me and I started to do more of what he said.”
Leading the Commodores with three sacks and tied for second on the team in tackles for a loss, Kadri has clearly heeded the sage guidance of Vanderbilt’s staff and grown up before their eyes both on and off the field. Such a feat has not gone unnoticed by head coach Bobby Johnson.
”(He gives us) a lot of production and (has) played with great energy,” Johnson said. “I was really proud of Theron going in there and being in a backup role. He takes it very seriously when we put him in there, and that’s the point we’re trying to make to most of our players…
“If you’re not starting, we’re going to play you…He was ready when we put him in there and he had a very, very good game.”
This “very, very good game” came against Rice a week ago, when Kadri’s two sacks helped set the tone for a defense that would not be denied the victory in a 36-17 silencing of the Owls. A game like that has been a long time coming for the player who briefly left the team for personal reasons before the season started, leaving some to think his football playing days were over. Upon his return, however, it seems Kadri felt like a man reborn.
“It felt good to be back,” Kadri said. “My teammates, they were willing to let me back and they welcomed me back with open arms and forgave everything.
”It was good to be back.”
Thus far this season, it has been good to have him back. Especially with the injury to redshirt senior starter Steven Stone, Kadri has seen his playing time—and his productivity—increase. The Commodores will once again lean on his services today against an Ole Miss team with weapons like senior WR/RB Dexter McCluster, redshirt junior quarterback Jevan Snead, and sophomore running back Brandon Bolden that can take over a game if their maligned offensive line can hold up. Hence, it is Kadri’s job to make sure that offensive line unit continues to struggle and, like with any challenge that comes his way, he sounds ready to tackle it.
“I’d just like to keep working hard and continue to have more of the same,” Kadri said.