Stricker could give UT fits

Dan Stricker won't be an All-American this fall or a first-round draft pick next spring but Vanderbilt's senior receiver could be a real problem for Tennessee's secondary this Saturday at Nashville Coliseum.

Stricker is one of the most dangerous players in the Southeastern Conference. But, because he plays for a Commodore team that runs a lot and loses a lot, he may be the best-kept secret in the entire league. He is remarkably obscure for a guy with such mind-boggling numbers.

For instance, Stricker has 180 career catches for 2,868 career yards. Those numbers rank him second among all active SEC players -- trailing only Georgia's heralded Terrence Edwards (192 catches, 2,893 yards).

One can only imagine what Stricker's legacy might be if he played for a school that throws a lot and wins a lot.

''He's been everything we'd hoped he would be, especially in the leadership department,'' Vandy coach Bobby Johnson says. ''Dan's production may be a little bit down because of the offensive priorities -- we don't throw it 40 or 50 times a game, like Vanderbilt did the last couple of years -- but Dan has not complained. He's been a great leader for us and has tried to do exactly what the team needs him to do, and that's the kind of guy you like to have from a senior and a captain.''

Tennessee head man Phil Fulmer has watched Stricker for three seasons, and he has a healthy respect for the Commodores' premier pass-catcher.

''He's an exceptional player,'' Fulmer said. ''They do a good job getting him the ball in a lot of different ways, and he's an excellent runner once he catches the ball. If it gets close to him, he's going to catch it.''

Although Vanderbilt relies more on the ground game under Johnson than it did under predecessor Woody Widenhofer, the Commodores might be a little more pass-happy than usual this week.

''With their running backs being injured, they may spread it out and throw it a lot more,'' Fulmer said. ''That's something we've got to be ready for.''

And, if the Commodores throw it more than usual, Stricker could be an even bigger problem for the Vols.

''He's somebody we'll have to do a really good job on,'' Fulmer said.


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