Johnson Named First-Team Freshman All-America; Cutler, Doster, Osemwegie Also Recognized 12/30/02

St. Louis, Mo. — Greg Johnson of Vanderbilt is the nation's top freshman punter, according to The Sporting News.

Johnson, a graduate of Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga., earned the publication's first team Freshman All-American honor after averaging 43.8 yards per attempt, fifth best in the NCAA. Johnson’s net average of 38.8 yards ranked fourth in the nation.

The Commodores placed three freshmen - quarterback Jay Cutler, tailback/return specialist Kwane Doster and linebacker Moses Osemwegie - on The Sporting News’ four-team squad. Cutler and Doster were named to the third team. Osemwegie received fourth team recognition.

It also marks the first time Vanderbilt has had four players named to the team in the same season. The last Commodore selected was cornerback Rushen Jones, selected on the third team in 1999.

Johnson becomes just the second Vanderbilt player to earn first-team honors. Former nose guard Ryan Aulds was picked in 1997.

Johnson answered a huge preseason question for Vanderbilt - the team entered 2002 without collegiate experience at the punting position. Johnson ended the year as both the team’s punter and placekicker.

His punt average was the fifth highest ever by a Commodore, and set a team freshman record. Johnson also achieved at least one punt of more than 50 yards in 11 of 12 games. As a kicker, he converted on eight of 13 field goals and all 27 extra point tries.

Doster, voted earlier by coaches and The Sporting News as the SEC’s Offensive Freshman of the Year, set a Vanderbilt freshman record with 798 rushing yards despite starting the season as the third tailback. He also displayed remarkable breakaway ability, averaging 25.7 yards on kickoff returns. He smashed a conference record with 243 yards in kickoff returns against Ole Miss.

Cutler started 11 games at quarterback, passing for 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. He also led all SEC quarterbacks with nine rushing touchdowns. The Santa Claus, Ind., native es established a freshman team record with 10 touchdown passes, and ended the season second all-time among Commodore freshmen in completions (103), attempts (212) and passing yards.

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 much of the season. He ended the year 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.

Johnson, Doster, Cutler and Osemwegie were among 24 freshmen or redshirt freshmen to play for the Commodores in Bobby Johnson’s first year at the Vanderbilt helm.



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