Hillenmeyer, Stricker Named
All-SEC by Coaches; Doster Earns Freshman of the Year Award
as Cutler, Johnson, Pyle and Osemwegie Make All-SEC Frosh
Ala. Vanderbilt senior middle linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer
was named first-team All-SEC and Commodore tailback/return
specialist Kwane Doster was named Freshman of the Year by
Southeastern Conference coaches Monday.
Hillenmeyer, a native of Nashville, who led the SEC with
169 total tackles, was Vanderbilts only first-team selection.
He was in New York City Monday to accept a National
Scholar Athlete award from the National Football Foundation
and College Football Hall of Fame.
Senior wide receiver Dan Stricker of Cincinnati, Ohio, who
finished his career ffifth all-time in career receiving yards
in the SEC, was named All-SEC Second Team for the third consecutive
year by the coaches.
Doster, of Tampa, Fla., became the first Commodore to earn
the Coaches Freshman of the Year award. Earlier Monday,
Doster captured the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award
by The Sporting News.
Doster was one of 24 freshmen or redshirt freshmen to play
this season in a youth movement directed by first-year Commodore
Head Coach Bobby Johnson. Doster was joined by four teammates
- quarterback Jay Cutler, offensive guard Mac Pyle, outside
linebacker Moses Osemwegie and punter Greg Johnson - on the
all-freshmen squad. The Commodores had more players on the
All-Freshmen team than any other conference member.
Hillenmeyer became the first Commodore player since Jamie
Winborn in 2000 to earn first-team All-SEC status. The last
four Commodores selected - Hillenmeyer, Winborn (1999-2000),
Corey Chavous (1997) and Jamie Duncan (1996-97) - were defensive
standouts. Hillenmeyer succeeded while switching from outside
linebacker to middle linebacker. He was remarkably consistent,
achieving double-digit tackles in 11 of 12 games. He ended
the season as the SEC leader in solo tackles (116) and total
The All-SEC honor continues a postseason roll for Hillenmeyer.
In addition to the National Scholar Athlete ceremony Monday,
the Hillenmeyer was named first-team Academic All-American
on Dec. 2, the first Vanderbilt student-athlete recognized
in 19 years.
Stricker had 44 receptions for 620 yards and six touchdowns
in a senior season where Vanderbilt looked for a more-balanced
offensive attack after having 61 and 65 catches in 2000 and
Stricker ended his Vanderbilt career with 2,880 receiving
yards (fifth all-time in the SEC0 and 182 catches (eighth
all-time in the SEC). He also established a school record
with 21 touchdown catches.
Doster earned the SEC Freshman of the Year award on the strength
of all-purpose offensive performance. He led all SEC freshmen
in rushing with 798 yards and was third in the SEC (and 17th
nationally) with a 25.7-yard kickoff return average. He ended
the season fourth in the conference in all-purpose rushing
with 1,523 total yards, an average of 138.5 yards per game.
Doster was named by the coaches as a running back and return
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.
Cutlers 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 had an all-American-caliber season for the Commodores,
admirably handling all of the teams 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. Johnsons
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 teams fifth leading tackler with 53 total stops,
including 40 solo tackles. He also added 4.5 tackles for loss
and 1.5 sacks.
Pyle was a pleasant surprise for the Commodores. The native
of Adairsville, Ga., pressed into service due to injuries
to a thin offensive line, steadily improved at right guard.
He ended the season with six starts.