Five Commodores headed to NFL camps

It was a big day for five Vanderbilt players who's dream is to play in the National Football League. The Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills drafted Jovan Haye and Justin Geisinger in the sixth round respectively. Matthew Tant, Brandon Smith and Dominique Morris all inked free agent deals just after the draft was concluded.

Defensive end Jovan Haye, who elected to forego his fourth year of eligibility at Vanderbilt, was selected in the sixth round, 189th pick overall, by the Carolina Panthers. "It's been two long days, but now I have to work harder than ever before and make sure I do everything I can to help the Panthers," Haye said. "I'm taking the attitude that the first chapter has been written, with more to come."

Senior offensive lineman Justin Geisinger was selected minutes later in the same round (197th pick overall) by the Buffalo Bills. "To tell you the truth, it's been a pretty long wait. I'm relieved and glad it's over," Geisinger said from his parent's residence in Pittsburgh. "I'm excited about joining the Bills. It's blue collar, a lot from where I came from, so I'm also happy about that."

Buffalo Bills scout Joe Haering had good things to say about Geisenger, "He could be a guy that because of his intelligence could also probably play center. He's one of those kids that if you had him active as a backup on a Sunday, he'll probably be able to play all three positions if you needed him . . .. He's more of a knock ‘em off the ball kind of guy. He anchors really well. That's why we thought as a staff that he'd be better as a guard, as an anchoring type against the big nose tackles."

Dominique Morris, a two-time defensive back MVP recipient for the Commodores who also chose to give up his fourth year of eligibility, was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I knew they (Tampa Bay) were interested because we had been talking. I thought they might draft me in the final round, but I'm happy with the way it worked out," Morris said. "Tampa Bay didn't use any of their picks on cornerbacks, so I think that helps my chances."

Senior receiver Brandon Smith hooked up with the New York Giants. "I was a little down at the end of the draft, but I feel great right now. It's very satisfying," Smith said. "I'm getting my wish, to get in somebody's camp and show them what I can do." Smith was the team's leading receiver in 2004 and one of the top receivers in the Southeastern Conference.

The San Diego Chargers picked up Matthew Tant, who also declared early for the draft, just after the draft ended. "Minutes after the draft, I was talking to the Chargers and getting excited about being in their camp. They have one of the best fullbacks in Lorenzo Neal, and also have one other on their roster. But I think they are looking to groom another fullback," Tant said. "When I get there, I'm going to show them I'm willing to do whatever is necessary, including special teams."

Photos by Brent Wiseman.