VandyMania: Matt, in the preseason a lot of the folks in the media felt like Vanderbilt had a chance to do some special things this year, maybe even reach a bowl game. That dream kind of took a hit with the South Carolina game, but there is still quite a bit of talent on this team, and still time to turn it around, would you agree?
Junior fullback Matthew Tant: Yes, there is reason to believe in this team. I know they've said in the past, this is the year for Vanderbilt, this is the year for Vanderbilt, but history has shown them it hasn't been. But we're still trying to change history this season. We have a lot of experience in the backfield with Jay Cutler and our two starting running backs, and we all have a lot of experience playing together. That can be a huge asset to our team. Our backfield really has an important role to play. Hopefully we can help out. We running backs want to be one of the main parts of the team. We feel like we can change the way a game goes just by running the ball well. We've been putting a lot of emphasis on that in practice.
Matthew: Oh yeah. That's what we've been working toward since Coach Johnson got here. The last two years have kind of been years that we can use as development. This year, with 21 returning starters, we really have no excuses. We have all the tools to do it. We just need to put it together and get it done.
VM: What did you do this past summer?
Matthew: We were here every day since the beginning of May. It was voluntary, and almost everybody was here nearly every day of the summer. We set all kinds of PR's, did several 7-on-7's with MTSU and Western Kentucky, and had a lot of good workouts here with the team.
VM: How about your lifting? You lifted a quarter-ton at one point. What's your PR right now?
Matthew: I'm still doing about 500 right now. They pretty much cut us off, because once you get to a certain point, there's just no point risking serious injury any further than that. We're not powerlifters. We're football players. They don't want us to injure ourselves.
VM: What's your situation in school? Academically you're a senior, but you're a junior on the field. Will you graduate this year?
Matthew: I haven't totally decided what I'm going to do academically yet. But yes, I have this season and next season left to play. I plan on either going on to graduate school or graduating in December of 2005.
VM: But you hope to play in the NFL one day?
Photo by Brent Wiseman, copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.