Admittedly, a 2–10 record with no conference wins is a disappointing football season. That’s how Vanderbilt finished the 2009 season. It would be easy enough to think that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. With a little luck, though, that light is a beacon urging the Commodores to stay on track. Good things are just down the line.
Three members of last season’s freshman class earned All-SEC honors.
Warren Norman, a running back and kick returner, was named to the Freshman All-SEC team as a kick returner and voted SEC Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches. He set an SEC freshman record with 1,941 all-purpose yards, led the league with 161.8 all-purpose yards per game, and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns. He also was named to the All-SEC second team as a return specialist. His freshman numbers eclipsed those of Herschel Walker, which had stood since 1981. Norman was Vanderbilt’s leading rusher with 783 yards.
Kicker Ryan Fowler was a unanimous selection to the Freshman All-SEC team. He tied a Vanderbilt single-season record with 16 field goals, converting 11 of his final 12 attempts. He nailed a career-long 47-yarder against Kentucky. Ryan Seymour joined Fowler and Norman on the Freshman All-SEC team as a left tackle.
Three more Commodores were named to the Coaches’ All-SEC second team. Chris Marve, a sophomore, was named to the list as a linebacker, and senior Myron Lewis earned a spot as a defensive back. Senior Brett Upson was named as a punter.
“I’m really pleased for all of them,” says Head Football Coach Bobby Johnson. “Warren just put together a fantastic season as a freshman, and Myron had a fine year and tremendous career. I’m also glad Chris was recognized for the great year he put together at linebacker. Finally, I’m thankful the coaches appreciated how effective Brett was this season as our punter.”
Thirty-seven Commodores were named to the SEC 2009 Fall Academic Honor Roll. Alabama and Georgia followed close behind with 31 each. “I am extremely pleased that Vanderbilt football players, and all of our Commodore student athletes, continue to be academic leaders in the SEC,” Johnson says. “Our university places the utmost importance on academic success—and, ultimately, graduation—by its student athletes.”
The team picked up 24 players in the 2010 signing class on National Signing Day in February—potentially the most talented group of signees in Johnson’s tenure as Vanderbilt’s head coach. “Our staff thinks this is a deep and talented class who will continue to improve our program,” says Johnson. “I’m very pleased with who we signed and how we successfully addressed certain position needs.”
A junior-college transfer has been added to the mix at quarterback. Jordan Rodgers comes to Vanderbilt by way of Butte College in Oroville, Calif., where he led the Roadrunners to the junior college national championship. One of his brothers, Aaron, is quarterback for the NFL Green Bay Packers.