A preseason All-SEC selection by the coaches, Moore is a fantastic athlete that could get a look returning kicks and even on offense for the Commodores this season. Johnson said the toughest part of the job this season may be to keep Moore from wearing down too soon because of overuse.
"Well, D.J. Moore I think is a very special football player," Johnson said. "He's one of the most natural football players I've ever been around. He just seems to know how to play the game at cornerback. He anticipates where the quarterback's going to throw the ball. He's a great returner. Seems to be able to find the soft spot every time he returns the football.
"We even played him on offense last year a little bit and he made some big plays for us. I think he's one of the best players in the conference. He's really working hard in the off season. I think he wants to expand his role maybe a little bit on offense. Everybody wants to use him, I know that. I think that's a good sign. But he's been a joy to have in our program and it's great to see the progress he's made."
Joining Moore as a returning starter is Alabama native Reshard Langford. With all four guys back and several reserves, guys that have played a lot of football for Vanderbilt, Johnson said they have something to build on defensively in the hopes it can push his program over the hump in 2008.
"Reshard Langford, which y'all will probably talk to today, you can see he's a dedicated young man, a great safety for us," Johnson said. "Very physical but also makes plays with the ball in the air. Ryan Hamilton at free safety is very physical, also made some big plays. I real think Myron Lewis is going to have a breakout year. He's a 6'1", 200 pound corner. Very athletic, great ball skills. We think he's going to step up and really play well.
"Darlron Spead is our nickelback. We got some other guys that I think are going to step up. Joel Caldwell at safety is going to allow Reshard and Ryan to get some help, get some rests at times. And Alan Strong at field corner may even allow is to move D.J. down at the nickel sometimes and give him an opportunity to get on some slot receivers and take them out of the game, you know, maybe make some big plays on some of those shorter passes."
Perhaps the toughest part of making a significant move for the Commodores is in terms of confidence. A program that hasn't been to a bowl game in over 20 seasons, Vanderbilt is one of the few teams that most writers give very little if any chance of making noise in the SEC in 2008. Langford said as far as he's concerned he's hoping to prove people wrong that are overlooking his team.
"We have great defense," Langford said. "I have strong aspirations for our team. We work hard and are going to be the best we can be. We are taking this one game at a time, we are just preparing for our first game this season."