On special teams, he's really special

VandyMania talked with safety Mike Martin, a 5-10, 195-pound senior from Tampa who's been a leader on a number of the Commodores' special teams units. Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-4) hosts the No. 12 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-2, 3-1) Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CST at Vanderbilt Stadium (no network television).

VandyMania: On the kickoff team, I've noticed that you're usually one of the first guys down the field, and often the one making that first hit on the ball carrier.  I know Coach Johnson has put a lot of emphasis this year on special teams.  Could you talk about what the coaches do to inspire you guys to play your best on special teams and come up with big plays?

Mike Martin: Well, the kickoff team is made up of a lot of guys, including myself, who may not be starting on offense or defense, but it's guys that we know can make a difference, make an impact on the ball.  It's like, the offense goes out to score, the defense goes out to get turnovers, and we [the kickoff team] are going out there to make a big play.  Every time down the field, that's our goal, to make a big play.  So far we've been able to do that.  It's give and take, but we're pinning them deep far more times than we're giving up big plays.  We just try to improve on that each week.

VandyMania: Tell me about your specific role on the kickoff team.

Mike Martin: Go down there and blow up anything you see moving!  A lot of time there's wedges, and I'm a smaller guy taking on a wedge... picture that!  But they tell me to just go down there and hit anything that moves, and try to make a tackle.  That's all I do.

VandyMania: Does it bother you a little bit that you're a senior and you're not playing quite as much on defense as you'd hoped?

Mike Martin: Yes, it does.  But... what kind of player would say it wouldn't bother them to not play in their senior year?  I just try to go out there and pad up and practice hard, and hopefully I'll get an opportunity.  The players that are playing in front of me, they're doing well.  If I get an opportunity, I'll just try to do my job.

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