Vanderbilt's Koger: Recovered and Ready

Senior Ben Koger has been rehabbing from shoulder surgery that he underwent at the conclusion of last season and stands ready to begin his final year at Vanderbilt. Koger, a local Brentwood product, has been working hard to recover from his surgery and keep his streak of playing in every game over the last three years intact.

He played well last season and started in games against Ole Miss, Richmond and MTSU. Unfortunately he had to fight through injuries during the second half of the season to keep himself on the field. The senior free safety, along with his teammates, have set high goals for the upcoming season and are looking towards continued improvement. He earned the team's award for Defensive Player of the week after his 6-tackle performance against Richmond. Ben will certainly be counted on for quality minutes in the secondary this fall. I was pleased to sit down with him and talk about the upcoming season.

VandyMania.com: How has the off-season training been going this year?
Ben Koger: It's been going well, I had shoulder surgery last year after the Tennessee game and it's been a little bit of a battle coming back from that. Individually I'm getting stronger and back to where I need to be. I think as a team it's been the best off-season since Coach Johnson has been here. The guys have been working together, doing stuff outside of football as well, just coming together.

VM: After coming off shoulder surgery during the off-season, what kind of changes have you had in strength and speed?
BK: Surprisingly it hasn't affected my speed I don't think, it did at first because it was a little tough to comeback after shoulder surgery and not be able to run for a while and do some of the lifting and teamwork. It actually helped me gain a little weight, which isn't a bad thing. I'm about 205 now, which is where I have wanted to be for the last couple of years. It hasn't hurt me and maybe I'll be able to turn that weight into a little more strength and speed.

VM: After playing beside Reshard Langford during his stellar performance last year, what are your thoughts on him this season?
BK: It's incredible what he did so young in his career. He is one of the key things that opposing offenses would focus on. It's pretty amazing considering that he was in just the first of four years. I think he's just going to get better; he's got the work ethic to do so. I think he's going to be some kind of wrecking force for our defense.

VM: In competing against the offensive players in practice, what receivers have stood out in your mind?
BK: Well obviously Earl Bennett is just amazing, especially for being a true freshman last year. We also have a lot of older guys that are playing well with George Smith and Marlon White. This receiving corps has gotten better and better every year that I've been here. These guys really know what this offense has to offer them as players and the whole team. They are really coming together and I think they are going to be a pretty good group.

VM: What are your thoughts on opening the season against Michigan instead of Middle Tennessee?
BK: You know there are a lot of people that might ask you why would you do something like that. I think it's going to be awesome; it's going to be incredible. First of all it gives everybody just a huge goal to work for, we know that we have to work hard. We are working hard towards Michigan, I think it's going to be incredible walking out into the Big House and being able to have a stage like that play in front of and show how this team has moved along through the years and gotten better.


Vanderbilt senior safety Ben Koger (VM/Stan Jones)

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