Jones, Hillenmeyer Preparing For All-Star Appearances; Both Seek To Impress Pro Scouts In Upcoming Hula Bowl 1/16/03

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A pair of Vanderbilt senior defensive standouts, cornerback Rushen Jones and linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, are scheduled to make upcoming appearances in postseason all-star games.

Jones, a native of Memphis, Tenn., has been invited to play in a pair of all-star games, the Rotary Gridiron Classic on January 25 in Orlando, Fla., and the Maui Hula Bowl on February 1. Hillenmeyer, one of the SEC’s most effective linebackers in 2002, will join Jones in Maui for the Hula Bowl.

During their four-year careers, Jones and Hillenmeyer continued Vanderbilt’s tradition of producing superb linebackers and defensive backs. This season, former Commodore linebackers Jamie Duncan, Shelton Quarles, Matt Stewart and Jamie Winborn started in the NFL. Former Vanderbilt defensive backs Corey Chavous and Corey Harris also started for pro squads.

Jones established career highs in 2002 with 70 tackles and 10 deflected passes. Jones was a four-year starter in the Commodore secondary, earning all-American status as a freshman. This season, he was a key reason why the Vanderbilt secondary held its final three opponents without a touchdown reception.

Hillenmeyer was Vanderbilt’s most productive player despite changing positions to middle linebacker. He finished the season as the SEC’s leader with 116 solo tackles and 168 total tackles. He ended the season ranked second in both categories nationally. Hillenmeyer also led the Commodores with 11 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and four sacks.

Hillenmeyer, a native of Nashville, also was named First Team All-SEC by league coaches after the season..

A first-team all-conference pick by SEC coaches, Hillenmeyer also posted team highs with 11 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and four sacks.

Hillenmeyer has spent much of the postseason garnering accolades for his work in the classroom. He was one of six Divison I-A players to earn prestigious “Scholar Student-Athlete” status by the College Football Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation. Last month, he was named to the 2002 Verizon Academic All-America Football Team. Hillenmeyer achieved a 3.79 GPA while earning undergraduate degrees in Economics and Human & Organizational Development.

This is the first year since 1978 that two Vanderbilt players are included on Hula Bowl rosters. That season, Commodore defensive end Dennis Harrison and receiver Martin Cox travelled to the Hawaii game.



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