Vanderbilt's star offensive lineman, Brian Stamper, has been granted a fifth year of eligibility for the 2007 season by the NCAA, according to the Nashville City Paper.
Stamper, due to complications related to a nagging lower back injury, missed the final seven games of the 2006 season. An appeal was made by Vanderbilt to the Southeastern Conference to grant him a rare fifth year of eligibility, but that appeal was denied by the league.
However, after receiving the news from the SEC, VU then took their appeal to the NCAA. The institution granted the request based on the unique aspects of his injury and recovery.
Stamper was named preseason All-SEC prior to the start of the 2006 season. In 2005, Stamper started every game at offensive right tackle, and held the longest streak of starts in Vanderbilt football history prior to his injury.
With the unexpected good news on Stamper, Vanderbilt is in the rare position of returning their entire starting offensive line for the coming season. Also returning are rising seniors Chris Williams, Merritt Kirchoffer, Josh Eames, Hamilton Holliday and Elliot Hood. The only offseason loss was Mac Pyle, who will graduate this spring.
Also returning are promising underclassmen Eric Hensley, Drew Gardner, Ryan Custer, Reilly Lauer, Bradley Vierling, Joey Bailey and Thomas Welch. VU also returns rising junior starting tight end Brad Allen.
Next season, Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson will have an historical list of players who could make a run at preseason All-SEC honors. Joining Stamper and Williams in that rare group are All-SEC and Rivals.com All-American wideout Earl Bennett, as well as linebacker Jonathan Goff, quarterback Chris Nickson, former All-SEC freshman safety Reshard Langford, and defensive end Curtis Gatewood.