NASHVILLE-- You might think, after three losing seasons heading into this year, after one coaching change, and in the midst of a disappointing final year that is now guaranteed to finish under .500, it would be time to pack it in.
Tack onto to that having an injury that is not allowing you to practice enough during the week or perform during the game up to your full capabilities. And imagine that those performances may be hampering your chances of getting a shot at the NFL, as you fight against the top athletes the nation has to offer in the Southeastern Conference.
It is time to shut it down, close the book on your Vanderbilt career and heal up for the NFL workouts in the offseason, right?
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Justin Geisinger. If Commodores fans are looking for heart, determination, commitment and attitude, they need to look no further than the senior left tackle who has more fight in him than a starving pack of wolves.
Playing on what coach Bobby Johnson calls "one and a half legs," Geisinger has still managed to get nominated for All-SEC consideration this year. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound tackle has been fighting through a Grade 2 MCL sprain on his left knee since the Ole Miss game, which basically means his knee hurts all the time.
"It is a considerable amount, but I can't let that bother me," Geisinger says. "The trainers do a good job resting me up during the week and with their treatment."
The solution, of course, is rest, something Geisinger simply is not willing to try.
|Left tackle Justin Geisinger has been known to bench press up to 600 lbs. He could probably have done more, but strength coaches stopped him at 600. (VandyMania / B. Wiseman)|
"It wears down as the game goes on," Geisinger says. "That is to be expected. It is an injury that needs recovery. It is just something that is going to take a few weeks to heal."
But as a captain, Geisinger feels it is his duty and obligation to make sure he plays every snap he can for the black and gold, pain, suffering and NFL prospects be damned.
"There is no question I am going to play this season," he says. "I've committed myself to this team and I’ve been dedicated to this team. Regardless of the situation, I'm going to finish with this team. These guys are my brothers. I've put in a lot of time and sweat and hard work with them and I’m going to finish it out with them."
Against Georgia, in a 33-3 Commodores loss, Johnson said Geisinger gave up a sack of Cutler and acted as if "he had just lost the Super Bowl, he was so upset. He is great captain and role model and I appreciate him very much."
Geisinger does not practice on Tuesdays and has limited time on Wednesdays, which are the two main workout days during the week. Johnson said even if a lineman were 100 percent healthy, missing that much practice would hurt his performance on Saturday.
"It is tough (not practicing)," Geisinger says. "Luckily I've been in the system a long time, so mentally I feel like I have the system down. Experience definitely helps me, but obviously it is not the best thing not to get a full week of practice. But in order to play, that's what I have to do."
Don’t go looking for an excuse from Mr. Geisinger, because you are not going to get one. And you are also not going to tell him the rest of the season does not matter.
"(The injury) is definitely hindering me," he says. "It's a little bit frustrating and disappointing, but at the same time, I need to step up and pick up my game regardless of injury. I have to push through it and I've been trying to do that to the best of my ability. As a captain on the team, I can't let that slow me down. I need to step up and help lead this team, especially through these last three SEC games. We have a chance to really do something."
Vanderbilt (2-6, 1-4) hosts Florida (4-4, 2-4) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Bill Trocchi is Interactive Editor for Athlon Sports. Photos by Brent Wiseman and Whitney D., copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.