Sean Richardson and Kenny Ladler (VM/Don Yates)
In our continuing preview of the Vanderbilt secondary, VandMania.com takes a look at the Commodore safeties. Two starters and a solid group of backups return which should make this unit even stronger.
SS #21 Sean Richardson (6-2, 218 Sr.)
FS #1 Kenny Ladler (6-1, 195 So.)
SS #22 Eric Samuels (6-0, 200 Jr.)
FS #31 Javon Marshall (5-10, 195 R-So.)
Players to watch:
FS #25 Andre Simmons (6-0, 200 So.)
SS #28 Karl Butler (6-0, 200 So.)
Larry Franklin (6-1, 212 Fr.)
Derek King (5-11, 195 Fr.)
Jahmel McIntosh (6-1, 200 Fr.)
Andrew Williamson (6-1, 195 Fr.)
Jacquese Kirk (6-0, 160 Fr.)
Sean Richardson is probably one of the top four defenders on the Commodore squad. He led Vanderbilt in tackles in 2010 with 98 including seven for loss and broke up seven passes. In 2008 Richardson was one of several Vandy freshmen that made key plays that helped Vanderbilt end its drought of bowl less years. In the Music City Bowl itself, Richardson made a key recovery of a muffed punt in the end zone for the only Commodore touchdown of the game. As a senior Richardson earned first team All-State honors at Linden High School in Alabama. Richardson had three tackles during the Vanderbilt spring game.
Kenny Ladler, who enrolled as a freshman for the spring semester of 2010, started nine games as a strong safety in 2011, earning All-SEC Freshman honors. Jay Fullam started over him in opening loss to Northwestern. However, Ladler took over after Fullam sustained an injury and was a fixture in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. Ladler finished his inaugural campaign with 57 tackles a forced fumble and an interception. Fullam has since transferred to Air Force so it bodes well for Vandy that Ladler emerged as the strong safety position leader last season. Ladler starred at Stephenson High School in Georgia where he had 80 tackles and four interceptions as a senior. Ladler had an impressive spring game finishing with five tackles including one for a loss and an interception.
Eric Samuels is another member of a very deep and experienced Vandy secondary. Samuels saw action in 12 games and finished with 27 tackles, two forced fumbles and a three defensed passes. Samuels, like Steven Clarke, also saw time at running back and gained 43 yards in 10 carries. Samuels played well in the Black & Gold game, finishing with six tackles including five solos and one tackle for a loss.
Javon Marshall is one of the few of the Commodore secondary who have seen a redshirt season. In 2010 Marshall's breakout game was against Florida when he forced a fumble and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a Vandy touchdown. As a senior at Wayne High School in Ohio, Marshall had an impressive 128 tackles and three forced fumbles. Marshall had two tackles during the Commodore spring game.
Last year as a freshman, Andre Simmons was considered one of the most brutal hitters on the team. Coaches had to settle him down a couple of times to prevent practice injuries to his teammates. Simmons saw action in 10 games last year, mostly on special teams, and finished with 10 tackles. He should see more playing time in 2011. Simmons, who earned All-State honors at South County High School in Virginia, had one tackles during the Vandy spring game.
Karl Butler is still another young talented Commodore defensive back. As a true freshman last year he played in every game, garnering three tackles. He had a big interception against Florida which he returned 33 yards. He earned All-State honors at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. Butler had six combined interceptions during his last two prep years. A very coachable player, he'll see plenty of playing time in 2011. Butler, who chose Vandy over offers from Arizona, Colorado and Tulsa, had two tackles for the Black team during the Vandy spring game.
Incoming freshmen Larry Franklin, Derek King, Jahmel McIntosh, Andrew Williamson and Jacquese Kirk all will make their case for playing time in the Commodore secondary.
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