Media picks VU fifth in East

BIRMINGHAM-– Despite coming off a 7-6 campaign and triumph in the 2008 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Vanderbilt didn't garner loads of respect from Southeastern Conference media members.

The Commodores were picked to finish fifth in the SEC Eastern Division by writers and broadcasters attending 2009 Media Day activities in Birmingham this week. The league office also released the media's preseason all-conference units today. The only Commodore represented was Myron Lewis, a potential All-America cornerback who earned second team honors. It was the second straight year that only one Vanderbilt player was named to the media team.

In 2008, Bobby Johnson's Commodores easily surpassed media expectations. Selected to finish last in the SEC East, the Commodores finished in a tie for third with a 4-4 league mark. The record included victories over nationally ranked South Carolina and Auburn, eventual Cotton Bowl champion Ole Miss and eventual Liberty Bowl winner Kentucky.

The media voted Florida unanimously as their projected winner in the SEC East, followed by Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. In the West, Alabama was given the nod in a close decision over LSU and Ole Miss. Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State followed in the ballot.

Lewis, a three-year starter from Pompano Beach, Fla., has been mentioned as a preseason candidate for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. He is also listed among the nation's elite senior cornerbacks by most NFL Draft analysts.

Lewis enters the season off a superb 2008 campaign, when he formed one of the SEC's top cornerback tandems along with All-America recipient and current Chicago Bear D.J. Moore. Lewis finished with five interceptions last year, including game-clinching picks over Auburn and Boston College in the Music City Bowl. He also shared the team lead with five quarterback sacks and set new single-season career highs in virtually every defensive category.

The Commodores open the 2009 season hosting Western Carolina on September 5 in Vanderbilt Stadium. Besides Western Carolina, other opponents on Vanderbilt's six-game home schedule are SEC foes Mississippi State (Sept. 19), Ole Miss (Oct. 3), Georgia (Oct. 17) and Kentucky (Nov. 14), and Atlantic Coast Conference power Georgia Tech (Oct. 31).
SEC PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
64 total votes
 
SEC Champions – Florida (63), Ole Miss (1)
 
Eastern Division
1. Florida (64)       64
2. Georgia           133
3. South Carolina    217
4. Tennessee         258            
5. Vanderbilt        317
6. Kentucky          355
 
Western Division
1. Alabama (33)      109
2. LSU (15)          145
3. Ole Miss (16)     149
4. Arkansas          245
5. Auburn            309
6. Mississippi State 387