Top Vanderbilt Juniors for 2009

A couple weeks ago VandyMania listed some of the top returning seniors on the VU roster. Today we take a look at the top returning juniors in the Black and Gold.

John Stokes LB (6-5, 228, Jr.)- Stokes saw immediate playing time as a freshmen when he show up at Vanderbilt in 2007. His good size and quickness create problems for offenses. His first year he played in every game and had seven tackles. During his sophomore season he became a starter and picked upped his stats to 31 tackles and four tackles for losses. Stokes also long snaps and earned team Special Teams Player of the Week honors twice in 2008 in that capacity. Missed spring drills while recovering from a shoulder procedure.

Adam Smotherman DT (6-4, 290, R-Jr.)- Smyrna native Adam Smothermen didn't have a ton of tackles in 2008 but his physicalness against opposing offensive linemen helped to set up other VU players to make plays. The solid defensive tackle had 16 tackles and two sacks during 2008 and will likely double those numbers in 2009.

Reilly Lauer OT (6-6, 275, R-Jr.)- Lauer, although he lacks bulk on his 6-foo-6 frame, is very athletic and possesses solid technique on the offensive line. Started 10 games last year and earned team Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against Rice. If Lauer can gain 20 more pounds he could be looking at a shot at the NFL.

Theron Kadri DE (6-4, 250, Jr.)- Kadri is one of those sleepers that the VU staff has become known for being able to find. From tiny Brighton, Tenn., Kadri played as a freshmen and last season he was a regular backup to ends Steven Stone and Broderick Stewart. Kadri, who had 19 tackles last year, should build on these numbers due to the knowledge and experience he has gained at VU.

Nate Campbell LB (6-3, 228, R-Jr.)- Campbell is a rugged linebacker who has served as a solid backup the past two seasons. Although he didn't start either game, Campbell made big plays in each of the huge wins over South Carolina the past two seasons. His hard-hitting ability and good quickness make him an asset to the Vandy defense.

Austin Monahan TE (6-6, 250, Jr.)- Monahan emerged as the starting tight end after the 2008 preseason practice. The towering North Carolinian made four catches before being injured making an important catch in the win over Ole Miss. With both Monahan and sophomore Brandon Barden coming back for the 2009 season, look for the Commodores to be in great shape at the tight end position.

Joey Bailey OG (6-4, 290, R-Jr.)- Bailey was one of the last signees of the 2006 recruiting crop. That was 50 pounds ago for him. Yes, he's gone for 240 pounds to 290 pounds as a result of three years hard work in John Sisk's weight room. Last year that hard work began to pay off for Bailey. He saw action in nine games as a backup offensive guard. This season look for him to be even stronger and wiser. He'll likely see action in every game and could also be used as a center, which is where he played during his first season in Nashville.

Teriall Brannon DE (6-3, 242 R-Jr.)- Another under the radar guy who has turned out to be a legitimate SEC player. Saw action in 11 of 12 games last season and started the Music City Bowl game in place of injured Broderick Stewart. Brannon finished spring drills as the starter for one of the defensive end positions. Look for Stewart to take that starting spot over once preseason drills begin. However, you can be sure that Brannon will see plenty of action.

Alan Strong CB (5-10, 175, R-Jr.)- Strong isn't a household name among Vanderbilt fans but he is well known for his viscous hits during football practice. Strong saw action in every game last season but didn't get a start. He provides another capable backup in the strong Commodore defensive secondary.

Kennard Reeves (6-0, 202, R-Jr.)- Reeves has quietly worked his way into the backup tailback spot during his three years at Vandy. Last year against Wake Forest he seemed to have picked up a step of speed along with improved running ability. He finished with 34 yards on six carries facing a very tough Demon Deacon defense. Look for Reeves to continue his improvement this season but he'll be pressed by several incoming freshmen to hold his backup spot.

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