Vanderbilt senior linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer makes a postseason appearance in the Hula Bowl Saturday night at 8 p.m. CT. The game will be televised live from Maui on ESPN2. Cornerback Rushen Jones, also selected for the Hula Bowl roster, is not expected to participate due to a hip injury.
Hillenmeyer was Vanderbilt's most productive defensive player despite a position change in 2002 from outside linebacker to middle linebacker. He finished the season as the SEC's leader with 116 solo tackles and 168 total tackles, and ranked second in both categories nationally. Hillenmeyer also led the Commodores with 11 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries and four sacks.
The Nashville native was named first-team All-SEC by league coaches after the season.
Hillenmeyer has spent much of the postseason garnering accolades for his work in the classroom. He was one of six Divison I-A players to earn the prestigious "National Scholar-Athlete" status by the College Football Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation. He was also named to the 2002 Verizon Academic All-America Football Team. Hillenmeyer achieved a 3.79 GPA while earning undergraduate degrees in Economics and Human & Organizational Development.
This is the first year since 1978 that two Vanderbilt players are included on Hula Bowl rosters. That season, Commodore defensive end Dennis Harrison and receiver Martin Cox traveled to the Hawaii game.