Wesley Johnson becomes the first Vanderbilt OL to earn first team honors since Chris Williams in 2007.
Dec. 10, 2013
Birmingham, Ala. - Record-breaking wide receiver Jordan Matthews and offensive tackle Wesley Johnson were named First Team All-Southeastern Conference by the league's 14 head coaches.
The coaches' ballot, announced Tuesday by the league office, also includes Vanderbilt defensive standouts Andre Hal and Kenny Ladler as second team All-SEC recipients.
The coaches' team follows an announcement Monday of the Associated Press All-SEC squad, which featured the same four Commodore players. On the writers' squad, Matthews and Ladler were first-team picks, Johnson and Hal were second-team selections.
The SEC office will also announce conference individual award winners on Wednesday and the coaches' SEC All-Freshmen squad on Thursday. Matthews and Johnson are under consideration for the SEC Offensive Player of the Year Award and Jacobs Blocking Trophy, respectively.
Matthews becomes the first Commodore wide receiver to earn first team All-SEC honors from the coaches in back-to-back seasons. Former standout Earl Bennett, now a member of the Chicago Bears' receiving corps, was honored with first team recognition as a freshman in 2005 and junior in 2007.
Johnson becomes the first Commodore offensive lineman included on the coaches' all-league ballot since former offensive tackle and current St. Louis Rams starter Chris Williams was recognized in 2007.
Four Commodores earning coaches' recognition in the same year has been a rarity, happening only four times since 1984. The single-season record for Commodores on the coaches' ballot came in 2005 when Bennett, quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Moses Osemwegie, tight end Dustin Dunning and offensive lineman Brian Stamper were recognized.
Matthews, a three-year starter from Madison, Ala., is nearing the end of a remarkable Commodore career, one that compares favorably with the accomplishments of any receiver in SEC history. With only the BBVA Compass Bowl left in his Commodore career, Matthews holds an abundance of SEC records, including 257 career receptions, 3,616 career receiving yards, 107 receptions in a single season, and 18 games of 100+ receiving yards.
Matthews, the only receiver in SEC history to produce back-to-back seasons of at least 90 receptions, has established new school records this year with 1,334 receiving yards and 107 catches. He also holds the team record with 22 career touchdown receptions.
Johnson also achieved a remarkable career of his own as a four-year starter. No player in Vanderbilt history has started and played more games than Johnson. The Nashville product started his 50th consecutive game in the season finale vs. Wake Forest.
Johnson is considered one of the conference's most athletic and versatile offensive linemen. He has played virtually every important snap for the Commodores since the 2010 opener, and has started at four different line positions: left tackle, right tackle left guard and center. This year, Johnson has started every game at left tackle, protecting the blindside of Vanderbilt quarterbacks against one of the NCAA's top defensive ends. During his career, he has been flagged for just two holding penalties and has allowed just 7.5 quarterback sacks in 1,281 pass plays, averaging one sack per 171 plays.
Ladler has put together his best season for the Commodores as a senior safety. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native tied a school record with a league-leading five forced fumbles and ranked second in the conference with a team-high five interceptions. Ladler's 60-solo tackles also ranks second in the SEC - and tops among defensive backs in the conference.
Twice in 2013, Ladler matched career highs by posting 14 tackles. He also closed the season remarkably, registering four interceptions and all five forced fumbles in the last seven games.
For the second consecutive year, Hal ranks second in the conference with 14 passes defended. His 40 tackles also ranks among the top totals by a SEC cornerback. The product of Port Allen, La., a 2012 Associated Press second team All-SEC pick, finished the regular season with 27 solo tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.
The Commodores, coming off back-to-back 8-win regular seasons for the first time since 1927-28, will return to practice this Sunday preparing for the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham's Legion Field.
Tickets are available at the Commodores' official bowl website, vanderbilt.edu/bowl.