VandyMania: Robert, back in the spring, Coach Johnson said you had been one of the most impressive players out of the whole spring. What were your thoughts on how last spring went, from your perspective?
Defensive lineman Robert Dinwiddie: It was just great to be healthy again. The last couple of springs, I hadn't really been able to get in there. They had been holding me out in order to keep me from getting hurt again. I think the last spring I played in was my redshirt year, when Woody Widenhofer was here. That was the last time we were able to separate into two teams. It was just great to get back out there and actually get some reps, and feel good about playing on my knees again.
VM: Your knees, knock on wood, are very healthy again, right?
Robert: It's just my left knee, but yeah. The pain is pretty much easily manageable. It's really solid. I'm just ready to go out there and play the ball I know I can play-- that I was all set to play before I got hurt.
VM: You probably could have gone ahead and left after your fourth year... I know several of the guys you came in with who redshirted did go ahead and leave. But you decided to stick it out for your senior season, and your fifth year with the team. Was that decision a hard one?
Robert: No. I mean, there were a lot of other guys who stayed around, too. There were some guys who decided to leave, and I guess they were doing what was best for them. That's fine. I wish them the best. I'm sure I'll see them again in the future, sometime soon. But I'm happy to stay here. I'm going to grad school, and I'm studying Organizational Leadership, going through the master's program at Peabody. Then after that, I'm going to try to go to law school. We'll see about that, but that's the plan for now.
VM: You're finally a senior, so there's got to be a little urgency about making things happen this year. What's your mindset, and what's the mindset of your fellow seniors as you're going into this last year for you?
Robert: Well, not a one of our seniors is satisfied with the years that we've had here. I'm sure everybody who came in when we did was taught in their high school programs, leave the program better than you found it. That's our plan, to come in this last year and really show the rest of the SEC and the rest of the world what we're about. That Vanderbilt is improving. I mean, we've got to follow the basketball team and the baseball team, right? (Laughs.) We're just not going to be the low person on the totem pole on this campus. It's just not going to happen. We're going to come up this year, and we're going to will ourselves to win. And we're not going to accept anything less.
I think of this year's seniors-- including the fifth-year seniors, the fourth-year seniors, and the fourth-year juniors-- as one class. We've got such a great core group of players coming back, that there's just no way that our team is going to be allowed to be, either stagnant, or worse. We're going to bigger and better things, and bigger and better places, and we're just not going to accept anything less. These seniors and the fourth-year juniors... they're just not going to allow it!
Practice photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics. Other photos by Brent Wiseman, copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.