Franklin, Tenn. – Senior safety Reshard Langford, junior linebacker Patrick Benoist and senior receiver George Smith walked away with top individual awards Sunday at the Vanderbilt Football Awards Banquet and 2008 Bowl Celebration.
Described as the "heart and soul of this team" by offensive coach Jimmy Kiser, Langford received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd when he received the Vanderbilt Hustle Award. Smith received a similar ovation when Head Coach Bobby Johnson presented him with the coaches' Dedication Award. Benoist, an All-SEC performer, received the Captain's Award selected by 2008 co-captains Langford, Smith and Bradley Vierling.
The event was highlighted by the presentation of championship rings commemorating the team's 16-14 victory over Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. The win gave Johnson's squad a 7-6 overall record and the program's first postseason triumph since 1955.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean commended the Commodores on their 2008 success in his welcoming remarks at the Cool Springs Embassy Suite event.
"I spent a lot of time this fall talking about this football team, talking about how Vanderbilt was 2-0, 3-0, 4-0," Dean said. "I also talked about ESPN GameDay coming to campus and how important it was for our city.
"We are very proud of this team for everything that it accomplished. On behalf of this city, I say thank you for what you did this year. It meant a great deal to this city. It was a good story that highlights everything that is good about our city," the mayor added.
Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor David Williams II also praised the Johnson and his squad.
"To the young men on the football team, thank you for coming here and deciding to accept this great challenge. I want to say thank you to the parents for entrusting your sons with us. I want to thank the fans. And lastly, thank you to Bobby and the staff, for doing it the right way," Williams said.
David Leinweber, a walk-on senior who played important snaps on the defensive line in the Music City Bowl, also received the Dr. Henry Tyler Academic Achievement from Vanderbilt Faculty Representative Lucius Outlaw.
All-America cornerback D.J. Moore, junior end Steven Stone and redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Marve also earned individual defensive honors. Moore received the Most Valuable Defensive Back Award, with Stone securing the Most Valuable Defensive Lineman Award and Marve getting the Most Valuable Linebacker Award.
Tailback Jared Hawkins, tight end Brandon Barden and offensive tackle Thomas Welch claimed individual offensive honors. Hawkins received the Most Valuable Offensive Back Award and Barden claimed tthe Most Valuable Receiver Award. Welch received the Most Valuable Offensive Lineman Award
Punter Brett Upson, the Most Valuable Player of the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, was named the Special Teams Player of the Year.