Two of the early events connected to this year’s Music City Bowl will provide Vanderbilt players the opportunity to open their mouths – in completely different ways.
The official welcome party Sunday night aboard the General Jackson Showboat included a rib-eating contest with five-man teams representing each school. Scheduled to eat for the Commodores were offensive lineman Joey Bailey, defensive end Broderick Stewart, defensive lineman Derrius Dowell offensive lineman Eric Hensley and – surprisingly – kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt.
“It doesn’t seem likely, but Hahnfeldt is an eater,” Stewart said. “… He can eat, he can put it away.”
Stewart, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior, will miss the game due to an injury sustained against Tennessee. So the rib-eating contest will be the closest thing to competition he’ll have this week.
“I don’t know how the boat is going to treat me,” he said Sunday afternoon. “Hopefully I don’t get seasick and embarrass myself out there. I’m excited and looking forward to participating in bowl activities.”
A Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast will be held Monday morning and will include a speaker from each team. Junior running back Jared Hawkins will be VU’s featured participant with an expected crowd of roughly 300.
“This is why I play football and this is why I’m at this university,” Hawkins said. “I’m here to glorify Christ with everything I do.”
GETTING STARTED: Vanderbilt will be the first of the Southeastern Conference’s seven bowl teams to play. The 2:30 p.m. (CST) kickoff of the Music City Bowl will precede that of LSU’s in the Chick-fil-A Bowl by four hours.
Coach Bobby Johnson, though, said he has not received any well wishes from other coaches in the conference.
“We talk about it in meetings, but they have better things to do than calling me up,” he said. “We all want the conference to do well.”
HAWKINS UPDATE: Hawkins, VU’s leading rusher, showed no adverse effects from his participation in Saturday’s practice and made through a second straight workout Sunday after having missed all previous bowl workouts with a foot injury.
“He’s getting a little better,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent, but he didn’t have any bad repercussions.”
FINAL ARRIVAL: Defensive lineman Tim Fugger made it to town in time for Sunday’s workout. The Illinois native was unable to travel Saturday because of extreme winter weather across the Midwest.