NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Record-breaking Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett (Birmingham, Ala.) has been recognized for his outstanding season as a semifinalist for the prestigious Biletnikoff Award, presented annually to the nation's top receiver by The Tallahassee Quarterback Club. The organization named Bennett one of 10 semifinalists for the prestigious award on Monday.
Bennett, a product of Birmingham's West End H.S., became the Southeastern Conference's all-time leading receiver last Saturday against Miami (Ohio), passing former Kentucky standout Craig Yeast with his 209th career catch early in the game that Vanderbilt eventually captured 24-13.
Bennett, currently leading the SEC with 54 receptions, is a big reason why Vanderbilt is 5-3 overall for the first time in seven years and within one victory of its first six-win campaign in 25 years.
Besides topping the SEC and ranking 19th in the NCAA in receptions, Bennett is third in the conference with 639 receiving yards.
Bennett and another of the Biletnikoff semifinalists, Percy Harvin of Florida, will square off this Saturday in Gainesville. Other semifinalists are Dorien Bryant of Purdue, Keenan Burton of Kentucky, Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, Harry Douglas of Louisville, James Hardy of Indiana California's DeSean Jackson, Mario Manningham of Michigan, Jordy Nelson of Kansas State, Brian Robiskie of Ohio State and Chris Williams of New Mexico State.
The award is presented annually on the The Home Depot College Awards Show on ESPN. The group hosts the party at Walt Disney World for the finalist and sponsoring organizations of the many awards presented on ESPN. Over 50 prominent journalists, commentators, announcers and former players select the Beletnikoff winner. Tallahassee Quarterback Club trustees manage the organization, but they have no role in the winner's selection.
The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc., the creator and sponsor of the Biletnikoff Award, is an independent, charitable organization founded in 1994. A number of people established the award and many more have contributed to its development as one of the most prominent in college football. The ideal of a college receiver's award was not a novel one, as a number of organizations throughout America considered establishing it.
Bennett has become the SEC's career receptions leader in just 31 career games. He is trying to lead the conference in receiving for the third consecutive year after setting a SEC freshman mark with 79 catches in 2005 and coming back to notch 82 receptions in 2006. He is the first receiver in SEC history with two seasons of more than 75 receptions.
Bennett has been remarkably consistent and productive. He has set a team record with nine games of 10 or more receptions. He also has nine games of at least 100 receiving yards, and has achieved 150 receiving yards or more in seven games. Bennett has posted three of the six highest single-game receiving yardage totals in school history, topped by a team-record 223 yard performance in the 2007 opener.