Vanderbilt football has become accustomed to having one nationally recognized player each pre-season. Kyle Shurmur, Ralph Webb, Oren Burks, and Zach Cunningham all garnered Pre-Season All-SEC accolades or were named to positional award watch lists. This season, a trio of Commodore players has been repeatedly named to basically every list for which they are eligible. With nearly every All-American and All-SEC list out for the pre-season and only a few award watch lists left, here is a rundown of the accolades so far.
The first, and most honored player, is Jared Pinkney. This list of recognitions is truly amazing and shows just how surprising it is that he returned for his senior season. Sporting News and Street and Smith’s listed Pinkney as a First Team All-American. CollegeFootballNews.com deemed him worthy of Second Team All-American while Phil Steele’s publication placed #80 as a Third Team All-American. The well-known strength of the SEC showed through as Phil Steele, Lindy’s, and Athlon Sports, and the SEC Media Day voters put the tight end on their All-SEC Second Teams. The Mackey Award, awarded to the best TE in college football annually, has him on their watch list. However, Pinkney joined just 4 other TEs to be named to the Biletnikoff Award’s watch list this season. This announcement is very impressive because the Biletnikoff Award represents the best receiver in the country. A tight end has never won the award since wide receivers put up so much more prolific production. It is unlikely Pinkney becomes the first, but it is a high honor for his abilities catching the football.
The second most recognized Commodore is Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The explosive running back found his way onto Athlon Sports’s All-American Second Team as an “All-Purpose” player. In terms of All-SEC teams, Athlon Sports and Lindy’s have him First Team while the SEC Media Day voters relegated Vaughn to the Second Team. The Red Mamba is also on the watch list for the Doak Walker (best RB) and Maxwell (college player of the year) awards. The Maxwell is essentially the less heralded version of the Heisman, which is still a massive honor.
The third member of the trio, who we really should give a nickname, Kalija Lipscomb has garnered much less attention, but he led the SEC in receptions last season. He does not need all the hype to have a great season. None of the All-American teams had room for our favorite Bison. Athlon Sports and Lindy’s both have him as a First Team All-SEC player. The SEC Media Days voters slotted Kalija on the Second Team. The Biletnikoff Award also has him on their watch list.
These three have had the vast majority of the pre-season accolades, but two other Commodores have shown up on the All-SEC Fourth team from Athlon Sports. Dayo Odeyingbo and Devin Cochran should be proud of the modest honor and use it as fuel to perform well to do better on post-season lists. Vanderbilt players have typically done better after the season has been played instead on the pre-season lists which rely much more on hype than on-field performance.
It seems unlikely that any Commodore defenders will make positional award watch lists. However, the Thorpe (best DB), Butkus (best LB), and Nagurski (best defensive player) awards will all announce theirs next week. The Outland (best interior lineman whether offensive or defensive), Groza (best placekicker), Ray Guy (best punter), Hornung (most versatile player), Wuerffel (community service along with athletic and academic achievement), and Walter Camp (college player of the year) awards will also publish players to keep an eye on for their specific awards. With Vaughn being named to the Maxwell watch list, he could be in line for the same from the Walter Camp Award.