The Sporting News Names Doster SEC’s Offensive Freshman of the Year; Cutler, Osemwegie and Johnson Also Recognized 12/9/02

St. Louis, Mo. — Record-breaking Vanderbilt tailback Kwane Doster was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News Monday.

Doster was joined on The Sporting News’ SEC first-team by three teammates - quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Moses Osemwegie and All-American punting candidate Greg Johnson. Doster was recognized as running back and return specialist by the national sports weekly.

Doster, from Tampa, Fla., set a team freshman record with 798 rushing yards despite starting the season as the third tailback. Rushed into duty by early-season injuries, he eventually started five games.

Doster, Cutler, Osemwegie and Johnson were among 24 freshmen or redshirt freshmen to play for the Commodores in Bobby Johnson’s first year at the helm. The youth movement was apparent in The Sporting News’ All-SEC team: as only South Carolina could match Vanderbilt’s four all-conference selections.

Doster displayed his breakaway ability early in the season, amassing 344 all-purpurpose yards in a narrow lossat Ole Miss. He finished the game with 101 rushing yards and 243 yards on eight kickoff returns, including a 95-yarder that sparked a 21-point Commodore comeback. The 243-yard total smashed the previous SEC return record of 197 yards by Kerry Goode of Alabama.

Doster’s 798 yards was the eighth highest single-season rushing total by a Commodore back, and eclipsed the former freshmen record of 644 yards set by Carl Woods in 1983. His 25.7-yard kickoff return yardage was the highest at Vanderbilt since 1958.

Cutler started at quarterback in all 11 games he participated in this season. The Santa Claus, Ind., native passed for 1,433 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 393 yards. His nine rushing touchdowns was the most by any SEC quarterback.

Cutler’s 10 touchdown passes established a freshman record at Vanderbilt. He ended the season second all-time among Vanderbilt freshmen in completions (103), attempts (212) and passing yards.

Greg Johnson admirably filled a huge special teams void for the Commodores, handling all of Vanderbilt’s kicking assignments. The Lilburn, Ga., native ended the season ranked fifth in the NCAA (and second in the SEC) in punting with a 43.8-yard average. He remained remarkably consistent through the season, booting a punt of at least 50 yards in 11 of 12 games. Johnson’s net average of 38.8 yards was fourth in the NCAA. Johnson also converted on eight of 13 field goal attempts and all 27 extra points.

A rash of injuries kept Osemwegie from a superb season. After starting the Commodores’ first two games at outside linebacker, the Nashville native played through severe knee, ankle and hand injuries the rest of the season. He ended the season as the team’s fifth leading tackler with 53 total stops, including 40 solo tackles. He also added 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.



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