Wholly Moses: Osemwegie sees improved defense

After the loss of five starters to graduation and the NFL, very few prognosticators predict much improvement from the Vanderbilt defense in 2005. But don't try to tell that to senior Moses Osemwegie, Vanderbilt's All-SEC candidate at linebacker. In this exclusive VandyMania interview, he 6-foot-0, 228-pounder from Nashville explains why he feels the Commodore 'D' can be vastly improved.


VandyMania: Moses, you've lost a couple of starters from last year's defense, including Jovan Haye and Dominique Morris to the NFL. Those are two guys who could have helped this team a lot this year. Based on that, not too many people are saying this year's defense can be better than last year's-- but I'm sure you disagree. Can you tell me why?

All-SEC linebacker and Vanderbilt captain Moses Osemwegie: Well, first, to Jovan and Dominique, good luck to them and their future careers in the League. But I just think the guys that we have coming in are going to help out a lot. Even back in the spring their talent and their skills were very evident. Some of the redshirt guys are terrific. So I believe we still have a lot of talent on the roster... it's just hidden right now, waiting to be unleashed.

VM: Over the summer you guys did some informal scrimmages with various teams. Could you name a few names of guys that have really impressed you? Guys that you think might make a name for themselves this year.

Moses: I'm sure you know about Andrew Pace. He's moving to cornerback. Andrew is just an incredible athlete. I really think he could play anywhere on the defensive side of the ball. Some others... Kelechi Ohanaja... Q-Cutty, you know... he's always making plays. Some of the guys got moved around among the linebackers too. Kevin Joyce has moved to strongside linebacker, and he's doing very well there. He is doing a great job of picking up the defense at that spot.

VM: The two defensive ends are probably going to be Chris Booker and Herdley Harrison?

Moses: Of course nothing is final right now, but those guys are working their butts off. Pardon my language, but they are! And they're being pushed by some of the younger guys too. There is some really good competition going on at those spots.

VM: Any freshmen or redshirt freshmen who have really come in and busted their butts? I know all of them have, but just tell us a few that have impressed you.

Moses: Well, Reshard Langford is stepping in at strong safety right now. He's making tremendous strides. It's amazing how quickly he's learned everything. I'm looking forward to playing beside him this year.

VM: How's Otis Washington doing? Otis had kind of a quiet year last year, and it seemed like he might have lost his starting position toward the end of the year.

Moses: Otis is doing well, and he's still very much in the running for a starting position. Like I say, nothing is set in stone, but he's doing well. He's learning more and more about the defense. He's gotten stronger and faster this summer too.

VM: Think back to when you came to Vanderbilt. You were recruited by the Woody Widenhofer staff, and probably thought you would be playing under a guy famous for coaching linebackers. You redshirted your first year, and then the Widenhofer staff all got fired. What was that period like for you? Did you ever think about transferring? It had to be a big adjustment to go to the new staff.

Moses: It was an adjustment. You're right, I was brought in under Woody. They were actually thinking about moving me to safety that year, but they told me they would give me a chance at linebacker first. And I was happy with that chance... especially when we got the new coaches. They gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent, and do the best I can. I guess they kind of liked what they saw.

VM: It seemed as though even in your redshirt freshman year, they kind of noticed that you were something special. Could you talk about Coach Belin and Coach Fowler and the impact those two guys have had on you?

Moses: As for Coach [Warren] Belin, it helps to have a position coach that has played your position. He understands what a linebacker goes through, what he sees out there on the field. He breaks it all down for me so that it's easy to understand. Coach [Bruce] Fowler, who's over him, has helped him by creating great defenses, and putting people in great positions to make plays. It's been fun.

VM: Has the adjustment been a great thing for you?

Moses: It has.

VM: This class that you've been a part of, with Jay Cutler and a number of other fifth-year seniors I could name, that's been a really tight class for four years now. Could you talk about the camaraderie you guys have?

Moses: We were all brought in together. We were all redshirted, except for I think two guys. We got to learn a lot about each other that redshirt year. You're right, we've grown incredibly close. We go out. We do things together off the field. It's just like a family. Our whole team is like a family.

VM: If the NFL doesn't work out for you, what do you plan on doing?

Moses: This is my last year. I'll be graduating in December. If the NFL doesn't work out, I'll probably go back to grad school in Business.

VM: You have a great middle name... could you pronounce it?

Moses: Igbinomwanhia (ig-bee-KNOW-an-hee-uh).

VM: You're of Nigerian descent. That name's got to have some great meaning. Do you know what it means?

Moses: It means, "at the mercy of everyone."

VM: Is there any story about how you got that name?

Moses: I'm Moses Osemwegie, Jr., so I'm named after my dad.


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