On the Road at Purdue

Notes on Vanderbilt's road encounter this Saturday in Big Ten country


Vanderbilt Commodores (0-1) at
Purdue Boilermakers (0-1)

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Sept. 7, 2019 • 11 a.m. CT
Ross-Ade Stadium • West Lafayette, Ind. • 57,282

Big Ten Network
Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analyst), Rick Pizzo (reporter)

WLAC 1510 AM / WNRQ FM 98.3
Joe Fisher (play-by-play), Norman Jordan (analyst), Mitch Light (sideline)

• Vanderbilt coaches and players will bring awareness to children cancer research at Purdue by donning Curing Kids Cancer items. Commodore coaches will wear Curing Kids Cancer lanyards and wristbands while helmets worn by Vanderbilt student-athletes will feature Curing Kids Cancer stickers. This marks the seventh year Vanderbilt football has participated in the cancer research awareness campaign.

• Four Commodore student-athletes hail from Indiana: redshirt sophomore OL Bryce Bailey  (Newburgh/Castle), freshman TE Joel DeCoursey (Zionsville/Zionsville Community), graduate quarterback Riley Neal (Yorktown/Yorktown) and redshirt junior DL Cameron Tidd (Greenwood/Center Grove). Bailey, Neal and Tidd were in the Vanderbilt starting lineup versus Georgia.

• Four Commodores have experience playing with Big Ten teams prior to joining the Vanderbilt roster: redshirt sophomore linebacker Leshawn Paulino-Bell (Michigan State), redshirt senior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Illinois),  graduate cornerback Cam Watkins (Illinois) and junior cornerback DC Williams (Wisconsin).

• Six Vanderbilt student-athletes earned their first collegiate starts versus Georgia: Dan Dawkins (R-Fr., OG), Kenny Hebert (R-Jr., OLB), Dashaun Jerkins (R-Fr., safety), Grant Miller (R-So., C), Harrison Smith (R-Fr., punter) and Tyler Steen (R-Fr., OT). Three others were first-time starters in a Vanderbilt uniform: Riley Neal (Gr., QB), Cam Watkins (Gr., CB) and DC Williams, (Jr., CB).

• Fifteen players saw their first action as Commodores against Georgia: Neal, Watkins, Williams, Ben Bresnahan (R-Fr., TE), Daevion Davis (Fr., DT), Tre Douglas (R-Fr., CB), Rowan Godwin (Gr., OL), Brandon Maddox (Jr., DT), Jaylen Mahoney (Fr., CB), Salua Masina (R-Fr., LB), Elijah McAlister (R-Fr., OLB), Scott Meyer (Gr., LS) Mitchell Pryor (So., RB), Leshawn Paulino Bell (R-So., OLB) and Justice Shelton-Mosley (Gr., WR/PR).

• Vanderbilt is looking for a second victory in its last three road appearances when facing Purdue. The Commodores’ last road win was a 45-31 triumph at Arkansas on Oct. 27, 2018.

• The Commodores are playing in Indiana for a second straight year. In 2018, Vanderbilt journeyed to South Bend to face Notre Dame, dropping a close 22-17 decision to the Irish in September.

• Derek Mason is one of just two Vanderbilt head coaches to lead the Commodores to multiple postseason bowl appearances. With 24 wins, Mason is six victories away from joining the program’s five winningest coaches.

• Gerry Gdowski moved into the offensive coordinator role for the Commodores this year. Gdowski is the longest-tenured Vanderbilt assistant, having been on campus since Derek Mason’s first year in 2014. For the last three years, Gdowski served as quarterbacks coach, helping mold three-year starter and current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Kyle Shurmur into the Commodores’ all-time leading passer.

• Four coaches are new to Derek Mason’s staff this season: Devin “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, Jovan Haye, Tim Horton and Matt Weikert. Fitzsimmons serves as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator. Haye, a former Commodore All-SEC defensive end, enters his first year as defensive line coach. Horton comes to the staff as running backs coach after extremely successful SEC tenures. Weikert serves as outside linebackers coach, coming from an 12-year tenure at Air Force.

• The Vanderbilt roster includes six graduate transfers: OL Rowan Godwin (South Alabama), LS Scott Meyer (Alabama), QB Riley Neal (Ball State), WR/R Justice Shelton-Mosley (Harvard), CB Cam Watkins (Illinois), DT Eddie Zinn-Turner (Marist).

• Vanderbilt’s 2019 roster includes student-athletes from 27 states.

• The 2019 Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame class was introduced during the Georgia game. The 2019 class includes two Commodore football All-Americans: LB Chris Gaines (1984-87) of Old Hickory, Tennessee, and OT Josh Cody (1914-16, 1919). Previous Commodore gridiron greats named to the Hall of Fame are QB Bill Wade (1949-51), head coach Dan McGugin (1904-17, 1919-34), OL John Hall (1951-54), RB Herb Rich (1946-49), P Jim Arnold (1979-82), OL Will Wolford (1982-85), WR Bucky Curtis (1947-50), OL Carl Hinkle (1935-37), LB Jamie Duncan (1994-97), RB Charley Horton (1953-55), QB Jay Cutler (2002-05), QB Don Orr (1954-56) and WR Earl Bennett (2005-07).

• Vanderbilt University hosted the first opening weekend of SEC Nation, the SEC Network’s traveling pregame show. The two-hour program, featuring host Laura Rutledge, Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears, Paul Finebaum and Marty Smith, aired Saturday, Aug. 31 from Vanderbilt’s Ingram Commons, the residential area for first-year Commodore students. It was SEC Nation’s first appearance on campus since September 2017.

• Vanderbilt’s season-opening tilt with Georgia was designated as the program’s “Set The Expectation” game. Vanderbilt was the first SEC program to host a “Set The Expectation” game. The event started in June, when Brenda Tracy, a registered nurse from Portland, Oregon, shared with the football team her devastating personal story and vital message of preventing sexual violence. Tracy has addressed dozens of college teams and many more on the high school level in the past year. Tracy also serves on the NCAA’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence. Tracy, who calls her campaign “Set The Expectation,” was in attendance and introduced to the crowd during an on-field recognition.

• Vanderbilt is in its 130th season of college football.