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NASHVILLE -- Vanderbilt football head coach James Franklin has named six additional captains for the 2012 season, bringing the total number of captains to eight.
Archibald Barnes (RS Sr., LB), Zac Stacy (Sr., RB), Johnell Thomas (RS Sr., DE), Javon Marshall (RS Jr., S), Wesley Johnson (RS Jr., OT) and Carey Spear (Jr., PK) will join Jordan Rodgers (RS Sr., QB) and Walker May (RS Jr., DE), who were named in the spring.
The group of eight captains includes Stacy, Johnson and Rodgers representing the offense, Thomas, Marshall and May representing the defense and Barnes and Spear representing the special teams. The group represents both the junior and senior classes.
“The chemistry on this team is as good as any I’ve been around,” Franklin said. “Those guys are going to make sure our team as a whole is making good choices. I might not have recruited them out of their high schools, but our first month on this campus we were recruiting them and getting them to believe in what we were going to build.”
Barnes played in all 13 games in 2011, setting career highs in solo tackles (37), total tackles (59), tackles for loss (4.5), sacks (two) and interceptions (two). Barnes also tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles. Two of his interceptions came against Tennessee, including one for a school-record 100 yards and a touchdown.
Rodgers saw action in all 13 games last season while starting the final seven contests. He was 108-216 passing for 1,524 yards and nine touchdowns, while also rushing for 420 yards on 117 carries. His 1,949 total offensive yards made for the 14th-best season in program history, just edging out Jay Cutler’s freshman season in 2002. On his very first play as a Commodore, Rodgers completed a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Stacy is coming off one of the most prolific rushing seasons in Vanderbilt history. His 1,193 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2011 were both program records, while he was also third in rushing in the Southeastern Conference. Stacy earned second team All-SEC honors from both the league’s coaches and sportswriters. Entering his senior year, Stacy is 630 yards away from becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher.
Thomas has played in 34 games for the Commodores and is projected to start on the defensive line opposite May. He started five games at defensive end in 2011, recording 26 total tackles, including four for a loss and two sacks.
May started eight games in 2011, including the final seven contests. He recorded 30 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss. He posted at least one tackle in every game on the season, as well as a season-high four tackles against Connecticut and Ole Miss.
Marshall split the starting safety role with Kenny Ladler in 2011, recording 42 tackles while seeing action in all 13 games. He grabbed interceptions wins over Connecticut and Ole Miss, while recording a career-high five tackles against Georgia.
Johnson was Vanderbilt’s offensive lineman of the year in 2011, making starts at center, guard and tackle while playing nearly every snap of the season. He took home SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week Honors after helping the Commodores rush for 281 yards in the win over Ole Miss.
Spear served as Vanderbilt’s place kicker for eight games last season, while handling kickoffs for all 13 contests. He made four-of-seven field goals while converting all 12 point-after attempts. Regular season opponents averaged just 18.5 yards per kick return off Spear, with the longest return totaling 35 yards. Spear is a captain for the second time.
The Commodores open the 2012 season on Thursday, August 30, when they host South Carolina at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Walker May's parents live next door to me. A great family and Walker is a great kid. Congrats to him and all the other captains.
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