3A Mr. Football likely to wind up at Vandy

Record-setting running back <B>Roger Herndon</b> rushed for over 2,000 yards for Greenbrier (Tenn.) High School each of the past two seasons, and this year led the Bobcats all the way to the 3A state championship game. The Mr. Football award winner says his college plans are still in flux, but said Thursday chances are good he will be suiting up for Vanderbilt next fall.

Roger Herndon has racked up over 4,400 rushing yards and 67 touchdowns for Greenbrier (Tenn.) High School the past two seasons. Roger Herndon was the key player in the Bobcats' charge to the state 3A championship game. Roger Herndon was awarded the Mr. Football award as the best back in the state in class 3A in 2004.

Yet as things stand now, the 5-11, 185-pound Herndon won't be signing with anyone on national signing day, next Wednesday. The first-team All-Stater held high hopes of attracting a football scholarship offer from Vanderbilt, but so far the offer hasn't come.

But Commodore fans familiar with Herndon's heroic exploits on the football field can take heart. Herndon, who has strong Vanderbilt ties, has maintained steady talks with Vandy's football staff, and says chances are still good that he will suit up for the Commodores next fall as a walk-on.

"We're waiting on a scholarship that my Mom's work provides," Herndon said Thursday. "It's an academic scholarship, but it pays for a full ride there.

"We're just waiting to see right now, but if it comes through, I'm planning to go to Vanderbilt and be part of the football team. The coaches all are doing what they can to watch out for it on their end. They've done what they can to recommend me at school."

The scholarship, in honor of the late Eldon Stevenson, is awarded to Vanderbilt students who are sons and daughters of the American General Life and Accident Insurance Company. Herndon qualifies for the full ride through his mother, who works for American General. With a grade point average that's well above 4.0 and a 27 ACT score, he would make a worthy recipient.

"I'd say the chances are pretty favorable," he said, couching his terms. "Most of the time, if you apply to Vanderbilt and get accepted, they'll award a scholarship to a son or daughter of an employee there. They hand out several each year.

"So that's what we're waiting on to find out. It's a pretty good chance, but there's nothing guaranteed about it. I feel pretty good about it."

But as he cautions, it's certainly not a done deal.

"I can't say percentage-wise, but I think there's a good chance of it."

If the scholarship doesn't materialize, Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay of the OVC are both seeking his services.

Herndon, who received an in-home visit from Vandy defensive coordinator Bruce Fowler a few days ago, said the Vandy coaches are all aware of the situation and are doing all they can on their end to help make it happen.

Like many other normal high school seniors this time of year, Herndon is anxiously waiting word from the Vanderbilt admissions department, as well as the decision-makers at American General. It may be around the first of April before his plans are finalized, Herndon said.

The Greenbrier workhorse led the Midstate in rushing and scoring this year with an eye-popping 2,268 yards (on 335 carries) and 32 rushing touchdowns, with one more TD coming on a pass reception. His junior year he had 2,142 yards (288 carries) and 31 rushing touchdowns.

Greenbrier finished 13-2 and made its first-ever appearance in a state title game in 2004, finishing as 3A runners-up.

The potential arrival of Herndon would be a boon to Vanderbilt, which is down to two tailbacks on campus this spring. The Commodores have a commitment from one running back for this year's signing class (Jared Hawkins of Klein, Tex.), and could still take another. If the possibilities for playing time at running back don't look good, Herndon could also get a look at safety.

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