SEC: D.J. Moore

Vanderbilt's Lewis to miss Tennessee game

November, 19, 2009
11/19/09
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Vanderbilt, which has been riddled with injuries all season, will be without senior cornerback Myron Lewis when the Commodores close out their season Saturday at Tennessee.

Lewis suffered meniscus damage to his knee last week in the Kentucky game and won’t play against the Vols, Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said Wednesday following practice. Lewis has been unable to practice this week and will undergo surgery sometime in the next week.

One of the top cornerbacks in the SEC, Lewis ends his Vanderbilt career with 10 interceptions. His 10 picks tie him for second among active players in the league along with Kentucky’s Trevard Lindley.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Lewis probably didn't get the publicity that he deserved this season, in part because the Commodores had such a tough season on the field. But he's a terrific talent and will be heard from at the next level. He has great size and speed, and the coaches on Vanderbilt's staff think he's an even better NFL prospect than D.J. Moore, who was taken in the fourth round of the draft last year.

Lewis, who had four interceptions this season, is just the latest in a long line of Vanderbilt players to go down with an injury.

The Commodores (2-9, 0-7) have been without senior safety and team captain Ryan Hamilton since the second game of the season when he tore a pectoral muscle.

Quarterback Larry Smith, defensive end Steven Stone, running back Jared Hawkins, running back Zac Stacy and offensive tackle James Williams are among the other starters who’ve either been lost for the season or have missed multiple games.

And during the spring, Vanderbilt lost its leading returning wide receiver, Justin Wheeler, to a knee injury.

Linebacker Patrick Benoist, the second leading tackler on the team, is also in question for the Tennessee game. He suffered a concussion last week against Kentucky.

SEC winners and losers in the NFL draft

April, 27, 2009
4/27/09
12:17
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The big winner last weekend was LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson, who was the third overall selection in the NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

 
  Tim Larson/Icon SMI
  Tyson Jackson's stock skyrocketed in the weeks leading up to the draft.

Jackson played on an LSU defensive line that underachieved in a big way last season, but it obviously didn't hurt his stock. He was one of the few up front who played well last season. He also had great workouts and is big enough and quick enough to play in a lot of different schemes.

Everybody thought Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith was going to be the big loser after his agent-related suspension at the Sugar Bowl, his nightmarish NFL combine experience and some of the boneheaded decisions he made.

But I said at the time and was confident in saying so that there was no way he would slip out of the top 10, and he went sixth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Smith will play a long time in the NFL, and it could be that the lessons learned these last few months will end up making him a better pro.

There were a few eyebrows raised when Alabama running back Glen Coffee decided to come out early. But he was coming off an outstanding season, and he saw it as an opportunity to strike while the iron was hot. He was right. He went in the third round to the San Francisco 49ers and was the sixth running back selected.

As is the case every year, there were a handful of players who should have stayed in school.

Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore was a terrific college player and made an impact wherever he lined up last season. But slow 40-yard dash times pushed him down to the fourth round. I still think he'll end up being a really good pro. He has great instincts, great leaping ability and plays his best against the best competition. But to give up a final season of eligibility and go in the fourth round is a downer.

South Carolina safety Emanuel Cook came out early and went undrafted. His former teammate, South Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, gave up his final season and went in the seventh round to the Carolina Panthers.

Talk about getting bad advice and/or putting yourself in a position academically where you have no choice but to turn pro.

And what about the case of LSU defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois? He looked to be one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the SEC entering last season after playing lights out in the BCS National Championship Game.

But he slumbered through a disappointing junior season last year, decided to come out anyway and was taken in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers.

At the other end of the spectrum is Tennessee running back Arian Foster. He received a second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory committee last year, but elected to stay in school. He suffered through a disappointing senior season, injured his hamstring in the Senior Bowl and went undrafted.

Big shoes to fill for Hayward, Richardson

April, 1, 2009
4/01/09
7:59
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt returns nine starters from a defense that collected 30 sacks and 20 interceptions last season.

The only other SEC defense in the 30-20 club a year ago was Florida, and all the Gators did was win the BCS national championship.

"Nothing's going to change for us on defense this year" Vanderbilt sophomore cornerback Casey Hayward said. "That's the way we play, blitzing off the corner, getting sacks, always pressuring. You can't ask for any more as a cornerback."

The Commodores, though, will be asking plenty from Hayward next season.

Ditto for sophomore safety Sean Richardson.

They're the two guys expected to step in for D.J. Moore and Reshard Langford, the kind of tandem that doesn't come along every day in the secondary.

Moore was an All-America cornerback who had 12 interceptions the last two seasons, while Langford was the quintessential leader at safety and a four-year starter.

"Reshard set a high standard. He's like a legend to Vanderbilt football," said Richardson, who recovered the punt in the end zone for the Commodores' only touchdown in the Music City Bowl win over Boston College. "To try to fill his shoes would be a hard task because he did so much for the team.

(Read full post)

Who will break out in the SEC?

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
11:29
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Who are the players who will emerge from the shadows?

You know, those guys who've shown flashes, but either haven't been on the big stage consistently or haven't reached star status ... yet.

Here are five guys I think may break out next season in the SEC:

Vanderbilt cornerback Myron Lewis: Talk to newly promoted Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Jamie Bryant very long, and it's obvious what the coaches think of Lewis. There's no question that he was overshadowed by D.J. Moore last season, but the 6-foot-3, 202-pound Lewis may end up being an even better NFL prospect. He'll be the Commodores' lockdown cover guy this season and he has the versatility to play a number of different roles. He was tied for fourth on the team last season with 76 tackles, finished among the league leaders with five interceptions and is one of the better blitzers on the team as evidenced by his five sacks. He's the kind of player you can build your defense around.

Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez: Much like Lewis, Hernandez was a full-time starter for Florida last season. He took over the lead role at tight end after Cornelius Ingram went down in the preseason with a knee injury. But in a league laden with quality tight ends, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Hernandez flew under the radar. He didn't even receive honorable mention on the Associated Press' All-SEC team last season despite leading all tight ends with five touchdown catches. In 2009, Hernandez will be at the top of everybody's list. He has great hands. He's a physical blocker and can be utilized in a number of different ways. The Gators love to use him on the shovel pass, and they run it better than anybody.

Georgia tailback Caleb King: One of the most intriguing position battles next season in the SEC will be the Georgia starting tailback job. The front-runner is King, although Richard Samuel will also be a big part of the rotation. But with Knowshon Moreno gone and after so much hype about his potential, this is the 5-foot-11, 212-pound King's time to shine and he knows it. He rushed for just 247 yards on 61 carries last season, but Moreno was the centerpiece of the Georgia running game. Here's betting that King seizes this opportunity during his sophomore season and showcases what kind of back he really is behind an offensive line that should be one of the strengths of the team in 2009.

LSU safety Chad Jones: He's one of the more versatile athletes in the SEC, and 2009 is the season that Jones becomes one of the better football players in the SEC. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Jones has shown just enough during his first two years that you know he has greatness written all over him. But with a new defensive coordinator (John Chavis) and new position coach (Ron Cooper), look for Jones to not only be a full-time starter, but much more consistent. The other thing that should help him is that he won't miss any spring practice to play baseball for the Tigers this spring. Despite starting in just six games last season, Jones still tied for sixth on the team with 50 total tackles and also forced two fumbles. Those numbers will only climb next season.

Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Trahan: If there were any questions about Trahan, they were erased at the end of last season when he played lights out for the Rebels. He had a sack and forced a fumble in the Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech and finished the season 11th on the team in total tackles. Despite starting in just two games, he recorded 4.5 tackles for loss. It sometimes takes a year or part of a year for a junior college transfer to fully adjust, but Trahan will be an integral part of the Rebels' defense in 2009. He goes in as the starter at weakside linebacker and has all the tools to be one of the best big-play defenders in the league. Remember, the Ole Miss defense under Tyrone Nix last season had a staggering 111 tackles for loss.

Browsing the SEC combine numbers

February, 24, 2009
2/24/09
2:29
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Several former SEC players helped themselves at the NFL combine.

The fastest 40-yard dash time to this point from an SEC player was turned in by Ole Miss receiver Mike Wallace, who ran a 4.33. It's also the second-fastest time of the combine so far for any player.

South Carolina tight end Jared Cook had a huge workout, finishing first among all tight ends in the 40-yard dash (4.5 seconds), vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches).

Georgia fullback Brannan Southerland was third among all running backs with 28 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

Georgia tailback Knowshon Moreno did 25 reps on the bench, but didn't finish in the top 10 among running backs. His two 40 times officially were 4.55 and 4.62.

The defensive backs ran Tuesday morning, and Alabama safety Rashad Johnson turned in a 4.52 in the 40, the second-fastest time among safeties.

Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore didn't run a particularly fast time. He was clocked at 4.54 and 4.58 unofficially in the 40-yard dash.

Some of the other unofficial times for former SEC defensive backs were South Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn (4.44), Auburn's Jerraud Powers (4.47), Kentucky's Marcus McClinton (4.53), LSU's Curtis Taylor (4.59) and Mississippi State's Derek Pegues (4.62).

Here are a few other notables:

40-yard dash

  • Georgia's Matthew Stafford, third among quarterbacks, 4.81 seconds
  • Alabama's John Parker Wilson, seventh among quarterbacks, 4.87 seconds
  • Alabama's Glen Coffee, ninth among running backs, 4.58
  • Florida's Percy Harvin, tied for sixth among receivers, 4.41
  • LSU's Demetrius Byrd, eighth among receivers, 4.42
  • Florida's Cornelius Ingram, fourth among tight ends, 4.68
  • South Carolina's Jasper Brinkley, sixth among linebackers, 4.72
  • South Carolina's Jamon Meredith, second among offensive linemen, 5.03

Bench press

  • Ole Miss' Jamarca Sanford, second among safeties, 29 reps
  • Georgia's Asher Allen, tied for sixth among cornerbacks, 22 reps
  • Florida's Percy Harvin, fifth among receivers, 19 reps

Vertical jump

  • Ole Miss' Mike Wallace, fourth among receivers, 40 inches
  • Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore, third among cornerbacks, 39.5 inches

Broad jump

  • Alabama's Antoine Caldwell, first among offensive linemen, 9 feet, 3 inches
  • Ole Miss' Mike Wallace, third among receivers, 10 feet 9, inches
  • Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi, fourth among receivers, 10 feet, 7 inches
  • Alabama's Glen Coffee, tied for fifth among running backs, 10 feet, 1 inches

3-cone drill

  • Georgia's Knowshon Moreno, second among running backs, 6.84 seconds

Johnson upgrading talent level at Vanderbilt

February, 23, 2009
2/23/09
1:57
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

If you want the strongest proof yet that Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson has significantly upgraded the talent level in the program and that his staff does a terrific job of developing that talent, turn your attention to the NFL draft.

 
  Don McPeak/US Presswire
  Cornerback D.J. Moore was the 26th overall pick in Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft.

Cornerback D.J. Moore is projected to be a first-round pick in April, which would give the Commodores three first-round picks over the last four years. Quarterback Jay Cutler went in the first round of the 2006 draft and offensive tackle Chris Williams in the first round of the 2008 draft.

How does that compare to the rest of the SEC during that same time frame?

Try the top third of the league.

In fact, only LSU and Tennessee are assured of having more. The Tigers lead the way since the 2006 draft with six first-rounders, and defensive end Tyson Jackson could be the seventh this year.

The Vols have had four first-rounders since 2006, and it looks like defensive end Robert Ayers could be No. 5.

Florida, too, would be ahead of Vanderbilt if Percy Harvin goes in the first round like everyone is projecting. Harvin would be the fourth Gator to be drafted in the first round in the last four years.

After that, Vanderbilt's right there and ahead of most.

Ole Miss' Peria Jerry and Michael Oher would make it three Rebels during that span if they both go in the first round.

Arkansas has had three, including Darren McFadden and Felix Jones last year, but nobody is projected to be a first-rounder this year.

And you're wondering about Georgia?

Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno would be the first Bulldogs taken in the first round since Thomas Davis and David Pollack in 2005.

Amazingly, Alabama has gone eight straight years without a first-round draft choice, although that drought will almost certainly end in April with offensive tackle Andre Smith.

Rounding out the SEC, Auburn and South Carolina have each had one first-rounder since the 2006 draft and nobody projected to be a first-rounder this year. Kentucky and Mississippi State have been shut out during that span, and that isn't expected to change this year.

Lunchtime links: Another first-rounder for Vanderbilt?

February, 23, 2009
2/23/09
12:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

A snapshot of what's in the news around the SEC:

Vanderbilt recruiting needs

January, 26, 2009
1/26/09
1:25
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The more you look at Vanderbilt's offensive numbers from last season, the more you realize what a terrific job Bobby Johnson and his staff did in getting the Commodores to seven wins and a bowl victory.

Vanderbilt finished the season ranked 117th nationally (out of 119 teams) in total offense and 105th in scoring offense. The Commodores have to find more firepower on offense to help a defense that played extremely well in 2008.

Jared Hawkins will be a senior next season, so they definitely want to address the running back position and are looking for more speed, a guy who can break a tackle and turn a 10-yard run into a 60-yard touchdown. Eric Samuels of Umatilla, Fla., Zac Stacy of Centerville, Ala., and Warren Norman of Chamblee, Ga., are three running backs the Commodores already have committed in this class.

Cornerback D.J. Moore's decision to leave early for the NFL draft and the graduation of safety Reshard Langford put a dent into what was a very productive secondary. Cornerback Myron Lewis will get his time to shine in 2009, but Vanderbilt needs to add defensive back help in this class.

Quarterback Larry Smith, who will be a sophomore, showed some promise with the way he threw the ball in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. But fifth-year senior quarterback Chris Nickson has departed after injury-plagued seasons the past two years.

Smith will battle Mackenzi Adams, who will be a senior, for the starting quarterback job next season. The Commodores also have Charlie Goro of Park Ridge, Ill., coming in, and Goro will be the first Parade All-American to have signed with the Commodores in more than 20 years.

Deserving end for Johnson, Commodores

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
8:21
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson, his staff and the Commodores' players had worked too hard to have this season end with the thud that was heard around Nashville for much of October and November.

 
  Don McPeak/US Presswire
  Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson led his team to a Music City Bowl victory over BC to cap the Commodores best season in decades.

The 5-0 start that became one of the most compelling stories in college football the first month of the season seemed like a distant memory ... until Wednesday in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

The resourceful Commodores harkened back to the form that allowed them to reel off five straight victories to open the season and won their first bowl game since 1955 -- a dramatic 16-14 victory over No. 24-ranked Boston College.

Fittingly, Vanderbilt won without scoring an offensive touchdown. Offense has been a problem for the Commodores all season. But they won the battle of special teams, stayed aggressive on defense and made the key plays on defense when they had to make them.

They somehow got away from that recipe for success in losing six of their last seven games to end the regular season.

But on Wednesday in front of their home fans in Nashville, they weren't going to be denied.

Myron Lewis' interception in the final minutes sealed the win, giving the Commodores (7-6) their first winning season since 1982. Equally big was redshirt freshman T.J. Greenstone's stop on fourth-and-1 midway through the third quarter.

Punter Brett Upson kept Boston College pinned deep all game with his rugby-style punts, and the Commodores' only touchdown came when one of Upson's punts hit the Eagles' Paul Anderson and was recovered in the end zone by freshman Sean Richardson.

And then there was Bryant Hahnfeldt, who calmly drilled a 45-yard field goal with 3:26 left for the winning points.

The only downer for the Commodores was their brilliant junior cornerback D.J. Moore announcing after the game that he was indeed leaving school early and turning pro. It was a memorable way for Moore to go out. He fought through a painful sprained ankle he suffered in the first half and never missed a beat.

The reality is that this has been building for several years at Vanderbilt. Johnson has upgraded the talent. His staff is outstanding, and these guys believe.

Even with Moore leaving for the NFL, there's a lot of young talent in the program, making the future a bright one.

And winning a bowl game will only help matters as Johnson and his assistants hit the recruiting trail in January.

The next step is ramping up the offense, but the Commodores proved Wednesday they know how to win, and more importantly, have the fortitude to fight back from a disappointing finish to the regular season and make history.

In unison, let's hear it one final time in 2008: Show your gold!

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
9:42
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

WHO TO WATCH: It's hard to list just one position for Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore, because he does so many things. He's an All-America junior cornerback who could be playing his last game for the Commodores if he chooses to enter the NFL draft early. But he's also a dangerous return man and caught two touchdown passes this seasons as a receiver. Don't be surprised if Vanderbilt uses him even more on offense today to try and loosen up Boston College's swarming defense.

WHAT TO WATCH: The Commodores need to make something happen in special teams. It was a struggle for them all season on offense, and it's doubtful they're going to transform overnight on that side of the ball. But when they started out 5-0, they were winning the special-teams battle and making key plays on special teams, be it blocking a kick, setting up a touchdown with a long return or pinning teams deep with poor field position.

WHY TO WATCH: Not only is Vanderbilt in its first bowl game in 26 years thanks to a splendid coaching job by Bobby Johnson and his staff, but the Commodores have a chance to win their first bowl game since 1955 when they beat Auburn 25-13 in the Gator Bowl. They get a chance to do it in front of a home crowd at Nashville's LP Field, where the Tennessee Titans play. A win today would also snap a string of 26 straight losing seasons by the Commodores.

Props to Johnson and his Vanderbilt staff

December, 30, 2008
12/30/08
3:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

One of the surest ways to gauge the health of a football program is to look at the staff the head coach has assembled.

It's a given that Vanderbilt didn't finish this season the way anybody in black and gold would have liked, but that doesn't diminish what Bobby Johnson and his staff accomplished this season in getting the Commodores to a bowl game for the first time in 26 years.

Vanderbilt takes on Boston College on Wednesday (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET) in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

There's no question that the Commodores have recruited more SEC-caliber players under Johnson and generally upgraded their talent in recent years. They produced a first-round NFL draft choice last year in offensive tackle Chris Williams, and cornerback D.J. Moore is likely to be a first-rounder if he decides to come out this year.

The other thing Johnson has done is surround himself with quality coaches, and more importantly, coaches who are coveted by other schools.

It's never ideal to lose good coaches, but the best staffs are the ones filled with future head coaches and assistants who are driven to get to the top of this profession.

Vanderbilt's success, not only this season, but in recent seasons when they've been on the brink of breaking through is a testament to what a solid, well-rounded staff can mean to a program.

Others are noticing, too.

Florida lured away running backs coach Kenny Carter last year. A few years ago, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator David Turner left Vanderbilt for Alabama and spent the last two years at Mississippi State.

Robbie Caldwell, the Commodores' assistant head coach and offensive line coach, has been high on Steve Spurrier's list ever since Spurrier fired his offensive line coach at South Carolina following the final regular-season game.

Caldwell, who's from Pageland, S.C., is one of the more respected offensive line coaches in the SEC. Vanderbilt defensive backs coach Jamie Bryant is another guy who will be a hot commodity. The Commodores' secondary has played lights out for the last couple of years, and along with Moore, cornerback Myron Lewis and safety Reshard Langford are also NFL prospects.

Bryant has also been the Commodores' special teams coach the last two seasons.

Not to be forgotten is speed, strength and conditioning director John Sisk, who's made a huge difference in the program. Physically, the Commodores look more like an SEC team now than they ever have.

Lunchtime links: LSU going with Jefferson

December, 30, 2008
12/30/08
12:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Making the rounds in the SEC to see what else is out there:

What to watch: Chick-fil-A and Music City bowls

December, 24, 2008
12/24/08
8:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

A few things to watch as the first SEC teams kick off their portion of the bowl season on New Year's Eve. Vanderbilt takes on Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET), and LSU faces Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET):

1. Angry or apathetic?: LSU coach Les Miles has talked a lot about how the Tigers are ready to come out and fight in this bowl game, how they're primed and ready to put a bow on an otherwise disappointing season. Honestly, it's been a while since we've seen that version of the Tigers. The defending national champions enter the matchup with Georgia Tech having lost three of their last four games. If they're genuinely ready to get it on, this has a chance to be one of the more interesting bowl games. If they're ready to get it over with, the Yellow Jackets and everybody else in the Georgia Dome may be asking what the rushing record is by the start of the second half. Remember, the last time the Yellow Jackets and their triple-option offense faced an SEC defense, they rolled up 409 rushing yards against Georgia to end the regular season.

2. Defensive distractions: The LSU defense didn't play very well this season when there were no distractions. But the Tigers go into this game knowing one co-defensive coordinator, Bradley Dale Peveto, is headed to Northwestern State, where he's been named the head coach, while the other co-defensive coordinator, Doug Mallory, is headed to New Mexico to be the Lobos' defensive coordinator. It's called finding other employment before you're demoted or fired, and both of the Tigers' embattled co-defensive coordinators did just that. Now that they're on their way out and everybody knows so, let's see how an LSU defense that gave up 30 or more points in its last three games responds.

3. Proving ground for Eagles: Talk about a battle of bowl neophytes vs. bowl veterans. Boston College will be gunning for its ninth straight bowl victory, the longest such streak in the country. This is the Eagles' 10th straight bowl appearance. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is making its first bowl appearance in 26 years. Nothing against the Music City Bowl, but you know the Eagles had hoped for more this year, losing for the second straight year in the ACC Championship Game. They've just missed on some chances to land BCS berths in recent years and are annually passed over by other bowls because their fans don't typically travel well. Will they be determined to prove they deserve better, or will they be bummed to even be in the Music City in the first place?

4. Quarterback carousel: Who won't line up at quarterback for the Commodores? Senior Chris Nickson will likely get the start, but he's been wildly inconsistent this season. In his defense, he hasn't been the same since hurting his throwing shoulder, the same injury that plagued him all of last season. Junior Mackenzi Adams was strong in relief several times this season and took over the starting duties toward the end of the season, but he went down with injuries to his knee and chest. Redshirt freshman Larry Smith showed enough promise in the regular-season finale against Wake Forest that Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson has said that Smith will figure into the mix in the bowl game. Smith's reps during the pre-Christmas practices went up considerably. Boston College has its own issues at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Dominique Davis will be making just his third career start after taking over for injured fifth-year senior Chris Crane. Davis threw a pair of interceptions in the ACC Championship Game loss to Virginia Tech.

5. Points at a premium: The first team to 20 is probably going to win this one. Boston College is sixth nationally in total defense, so few teams have taken the ball and driven it down the Eagles' throats. The Commodores haven't driven it down anybody's throat in a long time. They had a terrible time scoring points after starting out 5-0 this season. In fact, they were held to 14 or fewer points in seven of their last eight games. In addition to the uncertainty at quarterback, Vanderbilt is also shorthanded at running back. Jamie Graham, a receiver and return specialist this season, could see most of his time in the backfield depending on how much Jared Hawkins is able to play. There's also All-America cornerback D.J. Moore, who's proven he can make plays wherever the Commodores put him.

Vanderbilt's Moore a rare breed

December, 17, 2008
12/17/08
9:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Suffice it to say that Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore is no longer the SEC's best-kept secret.

The Commodores' junior cornerback became the first Vanderbilt football player in 11 years to earn Associated Press All-America honors. He was named to the AP's second team this week, which comes on the heels of being named first team by SI.com and Rivals.com.

Moore is one of those freakish players who could play just about any of the skill positions -- offensively or defensively -- and be one of the best players on the field no matter where he lines up.

Watching how athletic he is, how instinctive he is and how fiercely he competes, it's amazing he wasn't more highly recruited out of Spartanburg, S.C.

What were Clemson and South Carolina thinking? The Gamecocks tried to come in late, but Moore wasn't about to renege on the Commodores.

I took some heat during the season when I ranked the best multi-purpose athletes in the SEC and had Moore at the top of that list. I stood behind that ranking then, and I do now.

How many guys (particularly in the SEC) intercept five passes, rank 14th nationally in punt returns and also catch a pair of touchdown passes at receiver? And by the way, both of those touchdown catches came in the 31-24 win over Kentucky that clinched Vanderbilt's bowl trip.

"I've seen a bunch of guys that thought they could do what D.J. does on a football field, but I've never had anyone who could do so many things at such a high level," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "D.J. has tremendous ball skills and has a fantastic feel for the game. D.J. just has a knack for making plays, no matter if he's playing offense, defense or on special teams."

Indeed, Moore is a rare athlete even in a conference like the SEC that is laden with rare athletes.

AP All-America team has an SEC flavor

December, 16, 2008
12/16/08
4:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC had eight players named first-team All-America by the Associated Press on Tuesday, including three from Alabama.

The Crimson Tide placed offensive tackle Andre Smith, center Antoine Caldwell and defensive tackle Terrence Cody on the first team. The other SEC first-team selections were Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry, LSU offensive guard Herman Johnson, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Tennessee safety Eric Berry.

Making second team were Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, Florida running back/receiver Percy Harvin, Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore and Alabama safety Rashad Johnson.

Third-team honors went to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain.

Below are all three teams:

FIRST TEAM

Offense
Quarterback -- Sam Bradford, sophomore, 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Oklahoma.
Running backs -- Shonn Greene, junior, 5-11, 235, Iowa; Javon Ringer, senior, 5-9, 202, Michigan State.
Wide receivers -- Michael Crabtree, sophomore, 6-3, 214, Texas Tech; Dez Bryant, sophomore, 6-2, 210, Oklahoma State.
Tackles -- Andre Smith, junior, 6-5, 330, Alabama; Michael Oher, senior, 6-5, 318, Mississippi.
Guards -- Duke Robinson, senior, 6-5, 330, Oklahoma; Herman Johnson, senior, 6-5, 350, LSU.
Center -- Antoine Caldwell, senior, 6-3, 305, Alabama.
Tight end -- Chase Coffman, senior, 6-6, 245, Missouri.
All-purpose player -- Jeremy Maclin, sophomore, 6-1, 200, Missouri.
Kicker -- Louie Sakoda, senior, 5-9, 178, Utah.

Defense
Ends -- Aaron Maybin, sophomore, 6-4, 236, Penn State; Brian Orakpo, senior, 6-4, 260, Texas.
Tackles -- Terrence Cody, junior, 6-5, 365, Alabama; Peria Jerry, senior, 6-2, 290, Mississippi.
Linebackers -- James Laurinaitis, senior, 6-3, 240, Ohio State; Rey Maualuga, senior, 6-2, 260, Southern California; Brandon Spikes, junior, 6-3, 243, Florida.
Cornerbacks -- Alphonso Smith, senior, 5-9, 190, Wake Forest; Malcolm Jenkins, senior, 6-1, 201, Ohio State.
Safeties -- Taylor Mays, junior, 6-3, 230, Southern California; Eric Berry, sophomore, 5-11, 195, Tennessee.
Punter -- Kevin Huber, senior, 6-1, 220, Cincinnati.

SECOND TEAM

Offense
Quarterback -- Colt McCoy, junior, Texas.
Running backs -- Knowshon Moreno, sophomore, Georgia; Donald Brown, junior, Connecticut.
Wide receivers -- Austin Collie, junior, BYU; Jarrett Dillard, senior, Rice.
Tackles -- Eugene Monroe, senior, Virginia; Andy Levitre, senior, Oregon State.
Guards --Brandon Carter, junior, Texas Tech; Trevor Canfield, senior, Cincinnati.
Center -- A.Q. Shipley, senior, Penn State.
Tight end -- Jermaine Gresham, junior, Oklahoma.
All-purpose player -- Percy Harvin, junior, Florida.
Kicker -- Graham Gano, senior, Florida State.

Defense
Ends -- Everette Brown, junior, Florida State; Jerry Hughes, junior, TCU.
Tackles -- Gerald McCoy, sophomore, Oklahoma; Mitch King, senior, Iowa.
Linebackers -- Scott McKillop, senior, Pittsburgh; Brian Cushing, senior, Southern California; Aaron Curry, senior, Wake Forest.
Cornerback -- Victor "Macho" Harris, senior, Virginia Tech; D.J. Moore, junior, Vanderbilt.
Safeties -- Rashad Johnson, senior, Alabama; Trimane Goddard, senior, North Carolina.
Punter -- T.J. Conley, senior, Idaho.

THIRD TEAM

Offense
Quarterback -- Tim Tebow, junior, Florida.
Running backs -- Kendall Hunter, sophomore, Oklahoma State; Jacquizz Rodgers, freshman, Oregon State.
Wide receivers -- Kenny Britt, junior, Rutgers; Jordan Shipley, senior, Texas.
Tackles -- Jason Smith, senior, Baylor; Phil Loadholt, senior, Oklahoma.
Guards -- Louis Vasquez, senior, Texas Tech; Rich Ohrnberger, senior, Penn State.
Center -- Alex Mack, senior, California.
Tight end -- Rob Gronkowski, sophomore, Arizona.
All-purpose player -- Derrick Williams, senior, Penn State.
Kicker -- Kai Forbath, sophomore, UCLA.

Defense
Ends -- Nick Reed, senior, Oregon; George Selvie, junior, South Florida.
Tackles -- Fili Moala, senior, Southern California; B.J. Raji, senior, Boston College.
Linebackers -- Mark Herzlich, junior, Boston College; Sean Witherspoon, junior, Missouri; Michael Tauiliili, senior, Duke (tie); Rolando McClain, sophomore, Alabama (tie).
Cornerback -- Vontae Davis, junior, Illinois; Mike Mickens, senior, Cincinnati.
Safeties -- Myron Rolle, junior, Florida State; Nic Harris, senior, Oklahoma.
Punter -- Pat McAfee, senior, West Virginia.

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