Vanderbilt's choices for football captains speak for themselves

Monday, June 8, 2009 at 2:21pm

Bradley Vierling knows that talk is cheap, but not worthless.

The offensive lineman was one of three players introduced Monday as Vanderbilt’s football team captains for the 2009 season. Safety Ryan Hamilton and linebacker Patrick Benoist were the others.

Of the three, Vierling is the only one who has served in that role previously. As such, he understands there is not necessarily value in impassioned locker room addresses.

“We’re not cheerleaders,” the center said. “There’s no reason to be. We play in the SEC, if you can’t get yourself fired up before a game or in practice, then you don’t need to be out there.”

At the same time, though, he recognizes a responsibility to be in front of the cameras and recorders of the media.

“Speaking for your team, speaking through what your guys want to be said to the media is definitely a part of (it),” he said. “The way we all act reflects the way this team looks, the way this team acts and the way this team feels.

“I think all three of us know that. … We’re going to speak the way the team feels, and we’re going to say it in the right way, how it should be said.”

All three will be seniors this fall, when the Commodores attempt to build on the momentum of their 7-6 record and Music City Bowl victory in 2008.

They were elected by teammates, who voted at the end of spring workouts.

“I’ve always thought that captains reveal themselves through their hard work and their concern for the team, their concern for the other players,” coach Bobby Johnson said. “I think our team over the years has done an excellent job of voting for those guys who identify themselves, and they’ve elected, I think, three great ones for this year.”

Vierling was a first-year starter in 2008 who ultimately played close to 95 percent of VU’s offensive snaps. He was named a preseason Rimington Trophy candidate for 2009.

Benoist was the team’s leading tackler with 109 in 2008. He was national defensive player of the week once, SEC defensive player of the year another time and earned multiple academic awards.

Hamilton, a three-year starter, was third on the team with 104 tackles and earned national defensive player of the week recognition once. He was named to the 2009 preseason watch list for the Lott Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s defensive impact player.

“I don’t really try to go out there and do anything special,” Hamilton said. “I just go out there and try to play my best, be a good example and get other guys motivated to play.

“That’s what I’ve been doing. I guess other guys recognized it and wanted me to keep doing it for them.”