30 Patrick Benoist 6-0 215 So.-1L Southlake, Texas/Carroll OR
35 Brandon Bryant 6-1 230 So.-1L Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier
24 Marcus Buggs 5-11 235 Sr.-3L Madison, Tenn./Goodpasture
52 Nathan Campbell 6-3 228 Fr.-RS Hazen, Ark./Hazen
46 Michael Garcia 5-11 230 Fr.-RS Jacksonville, Fla./Bolles School
47 Jonathan Goff 6-4 235 Sr.-3L Lynn, Mass./St. John's Prep
45 Chris Johnson 6-1 230 So.-1L Birmingham,Ala./Oak Mountain
37 Dom Morais 6-0 218 Jr.-SQ Dayton, Texas/Dayton
91 Austin Newton 6-2 215 Fr.-RS McDonough, Ga./Union Grove
49 John Stokes 6-5 230 Fr. Memphis, Tenn./Memphis University
43 Chris Marve 6-0 230 Fr. Memphis, Tenn./White Station
Bold= projected starter
All-American middle linebacker Jonathan Goff, who will serve as a team captain for the second year, will lead the defense again. Goff and Marcus Buggs return as starters at linebacker for the Commodores and both have played at a very high level. Goff's physical presence on the field has landed him as one the highest rated linebackers in college football by most NFL scouts.
Buggs (photo right) returns for his second year as a starter for the Commodores and he should become one of the biggest leaders for the defense this season.
The weak side linebacker spot is up for grabs after the departure of longtime starter Kevin Joyce. Brandon Bryant (photo at left), Patrick Benoist, Chris Johnson, Nathan Campbell and Austin Newton will all compete for the spot. Benoist, Bryant and Johnson played last season in reserve roles, but appear to be ready to step into the rotation.
Campbell and Newton have looked good in practice along with Dom Morias and Bo Baggarley.
Two heavily recruited newcomers from Memphis could make an impact during their Commodore careers but it likely won't be during 2007. Chris Marve and John Stokes were both rated in the top 50 linebacker prospects in America during their senior years by Scout.com. Stokes might eventually be given a look at defensive end. Because of the returning talent at linebacker they'll likely be redshirted.
The linebacker position has always been a bright spot for Vanderbilt's defense and this year will not be an exception.