Note: NCAA Football '13 comes out soon, and we were paid handsomely - HANDSOMELY - to write up some sponsored posts on the subject. Seeing as things are slow for Vandy sports right now, it seemed as good a time as any to throw some new conversation topics into the mix. Feel free to add your input or call us shills in the comments below. - CD
The Heisman trophy is an elusive mistress for Vanderbilt fans. So many times we've seen it slip away from our grasps as players like Mackenzi Adams and Jim Adams alike watched their rightfully deserved awards disintegrate in a show of big football politics. The Downtown Athletic Club's members, holding a longstanding grudge against Cornelius Vanderbilt and his robber baron tactics since 1926, have made it an unspoken rule that no Vandy player shall ever receive the award.
However, curses fade over time, and the dark cloud that previously lingered over Vanderbilt football for a mere 60 years appears to be receding. Coach James Franklin is bringing new and stronger recruits to Nashville, giving the 'Dores a better chance to land a Heisman finalist than ever before. Still, until a major change happens, Vanderbilt fans will be without a Heisman trophy winner in black and gold.
NCAA Football '13 is here to change all that. A new legends mode will allow you to insert Heisman winners across the Vanderbilt lineup. Want Tim Tebow throwing jump passes to Steven Scheu? Done. Want to pair Warren Norman with the man whose SEC freshman records he broke? Herschel Walker is available to don the black and gold. Looking for a dual threat QB to fill out James Franklin's dreamworld 11-QB offense? Charlie Ward is your man.
That leads to an important question. If you could pick just one Heisman winner to transplant to the 2012 Vanderbilt Commodore team, who would you choose?
The best player in college football would be a boost to any position at Vanderbilt, but we'd get the most use out of him at a position of need. That rules out running back right away. All-SEC players Zac Stacy and Warren Norman have that spot locked down, and freshman Brian Kimbrow will only help with the work there.
An impact wide receiver could help, but that's another area that the 'Dores are in good shape. Vandy's four-deep depth chart is filled with players who probably could have started over any Commodore receiver in the past decade not named Earl Bennett. Quarterback is a little murkier with a positional race between Jordan Rodgers and Austyn Carta-Samuels, but both have proven that they can take snaps for a bowl team in their careers so far.
However, there is one big hole that the Commodores will have to address this season, and that's on the other side of the ball. An area where there has only been only Heisman winner in the history of the award - defensive back. With Sean Richardson and Casey Hayward both playing for the Green Bay Packers, Vanderbilt could use the guiding hand of one of their new teammates. The athlete I'd pick to bring to Nashville is Charles Woodson.
Woodson won the Heisman in 1997 and became the first defensive back to ever earn that honor. As one of the greatest athletes to play the game, he earned his stripes on both sides of the ball to give Michigan a unique two-way presence. His big play ability helped drive the Wolverines to a share of the national title that year, and his determination and athleticism would make him the strongest link at a position that has been Vanderbilt's best in the past decade.
We know that this team can turn multi-talented defensive backs into weapons all over the field. D.J. Moore's presence on both sides of the ball helped drive this team to a bowl game back in 2008. Jamie Graham was a valuable nickel back, slot receiver, and special teams player before transferring to UCLA.
That means that a player like Woodson would fill plenty of roles for the Commodores. Need a shutdown corner? Done. Need someone who can run back a punt late in the fourth quarter? No problem. Want to add some extra depth to your wideout corps? Woodson is your man.
He may not be the sexiest pick, but he's the one that would bring the most to this 2012 Commodore team. This year's defense will be looking for leaders to step up and fill the voids left by Chris Marve, Richardson, and Hayward. Woodson could not only replace what they brought to the field, but what they brought to the locker room as well.
So that's why I'd throw Charles Woodson on the Commodores with my pick of Heisman winners. He's got the chops to replace Hayward's big play power on the defensive end and the speed to give Vanderbilt an extra gear on offense. He's also a national champion and key piece to a Super Bowl winning team who has proven that he can get along will with quarterbacks from the Rodgers family tree.
Welcome to the family, Charles. I look forward to playing with you once I finally get sick of running Larry Smith directly into blitzes in NCAA '09. See you in several years.
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