Johnson Announces Staff Promotions

Four Vanderbilt football assistant coaches will have expanded responsibilities when the Commodores open Spring Practice on March 10, Head Coach Bobby Johnson announced today.

Johnson said Bruce Fowler, defensive coordinator for the Commodores since he arrived on campus seven years ago, will become Assistant Head Coach in charge of the Vanderbilt defense. Jamie Bryant, another seven-year veteran of the defensive staff, becomes defensive coordinator.

Johnson also added more duties to the team's two newest assistant coaches, defensive line mentor Rick Logo and running backs coach Des Kitchings, naming them as co-special teams coordinators.

Johnson's promotion of Fowler, Bryant and Logo comes after the Vanderbilt defense ranked among NCAA and SEC leaders in 2008, helping the Commodores to their first winning season in 26 years and the program's second postseason bowl victory ever. Kitchings just finished his first year on the Commodore offensive staff.

"I'm extremely pleased to announce these staff promotions," Johnson said. "All four of these coaches have shown a superb ability to prepare our players at the highest level. With these promotions, we are truly recognizing the fantastic job these coaches have done for our program.

"Seven years ago, our challenge was to rebuild the Vanderbilt football program. We've been able to make progress because of our players and because of a stable and professional staff of coaches that gives tremendous effort to help us get better. I think we strengthen our football team with this announcement," Johnson added.

Fowler and Bryant, both natives of Ohio, are examples of Johnson's desire to keep a consistent staff at Vanderbilt. They are two of seven current Vanderbilt coaches who were members of Johnson's original Commodore staff in 2002.

The relationship between Fowler and Johnson dates to the late-1970s when Johnson was Fowler's position coach at Furman. They have been members of the same coaching staff for 23 of the last 24 years. Fowler has been Johnson's defensive coordinator for the last 10 years.

Bryant joined the Commodores after serving a year as a defensive graduate assistant at North Carolina, a year as defensive coordinator at St. Francis (Pa.) University and three years at Clarion (Pa.) University. During the year at UNC, Bryant impressed Tar Heel offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell, who later recommended Johnson add Bryant to his Vanderbilt staff.

Bryant has coached the Commodore defensive secondary, and added special teams coordinator duties last year. In 2008, he mentored a secondary that ranked 15th nationally in pass defense and eighth nationally in interceptions. The veteran unit included D.J. Moore, the first Vanderbilt All-America cornerback in 25 years, four-year starting safety Reshard Langford, and two All-SEC caliber juniors in cornerback Myron Lewis and safety Ryan Hamilton.

While joining the Commodore staff in 2006, Logo has directed a vast improvement of the Vanderbilt defensive line. In recent years, the unit has helped produce two of the top four Commodore sack totals since 1974.

Kitchings is the newest Commodore coach, joining the staff last year. In his first year on campus, Kitchings mentored leading rusher Jared Hawkins.

The Commodores return 19 starters from the 2008 squad that defeated No. 24 Boston College 16-14 in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Among the top offensive returnees are tailback Jared Hawkins, receiver/running back Jamie Graham, quarterbacks Mackenzi Adams and Larry Smith, tight end Brandon Barden, center Bradley Vierling and tackle Thomas Welch. Defensive returnees are Lewis, Hamilton, linebackers Patrick Benoist, Chris Marve and John Stokes, and defensive linemen Steven Stone, Greg Billinger, Adam Smotherman, T.J. Greenstone and Broderick Stewart. Music City Bowl MVP Brett Upson also returns at punter.

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