ATLANTA, Ga. - Vanderbilt's record-breaking wide receiver Earl Bennett was named First Team All-Southeastern Conference by the Associated Press today.
Bennett, a sophomore from Birmingham, Ala., was the only Commodore named either first or second team all-conference by the media. Teammates Jonathan Goff, a junior linebacker from Lynn, Mass., and Brian Stamper, a senior offensive tackle from Windermere, Fla., received votes from the panel of sportswriters.
Last Thursday, Bennett became Vanderbilt's first All-American in eight years when Rivals.com named the sophomore to its third team offense.
Last year, the writers recognized four Commodores - naming Jay Cutler as the league's first team quarterback and Offensive Player of the Year, Moses Osemwegie as a first team linebacker, tight end Dustin Dunning and Bennett as second team honorees.
Commodore Head Coach Bobby Johnson was pleased with Bennett's selection, and thought others deserved recognition. "I'm very happy for Earl. He stands out as one of the SEC's most productive players and is an outstanding representative of the Vanderbilt football team who truly thinks about the team first," Johnson said. "Earl Bennett is a very deserving selection."
"While I'm pleased for Earl, I'm disappointed for other deserving candidates from our team, such as Jonathan (Goff) and Chris (Williams)," Johnson said. Goff, a co-captain, was one of the SEC's leading tacklers while Williams, a junior offensive tackle from Glynn, La., was one of the league's top linemen in his first year protecting quarterback Chris Nickson's blindside.
Bennett continued his remarkable young Commodore career. In 2006, he caught 82 passes for 1,146 yards, both new sophomore records for a player who owns every Vanderbilt freshman receiving mark. Bennett finished the regular season as the SEC's leading receiver in catches, ranking seventh nationally, and the league's second best receiver in yardage. Bennett also became the first player in SEC history to catch more than 75 passes in two different seasons.
He also continued to put up staggering single-game numbers. He surpassed 150 receiving yards on four occasions, topped by a 220-yard performance at Kentucky, easiily the most by a SEC player this season. He also caught 13 passes - another SEC season high - for 157 yards versus Florida.
Bennett is on pace to shatter Vanderbilt and SEC career receiving marks. With 161 career catches, Bennett is the SEC's most prolific receiver after two years of eligibility. He needs 40 catches to become the all-time leader at Vanderbilt and just 48 receptions to claim the SEC career record. He is also on pace to eclipse the SEC all-time mark of 3,093 receiving yards set by former Georgia standout Terrence Edwards.
Bennett stunned the SEC as a freshman, putting together one of the league's best receiving seasons ever. He set a SEC freshman mark with 79 receptions, and ranked among the league leaders with 876 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Bennett becomes the first Commodore wide receiver to be named Associated Press first team All-SEC since Boo Mitchell in 1988. Overall, Bennett is the seventh Commodore receiver to be named first team All-SEC since 1935.
AP All-SEC Offense First Team
Receivers - Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt, 6-1, 200, So.; Robert Meachem, Tennessee, 6-3, 210, Jr.
Linemen - Arron Sears, Tennessee, 6-4, 320, Sr.; Tony Ugoh, Arkansas, 6-5, 305, Sr.; Ben Grubbs, Auburn, 6-3, 301, Sr.; Daniel Inman, Georgia, 6-7, 316, Sr.
Center - Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas, 6-4, 305, So.
Tight End - Jacob Tamme, Kentucky, 6-5, 240, Jr.
Quarterback - JaMarcus Russell, LSU, 6-6 252, Jr.
Running Backs - Darren McFadden Arkansas, 6-2, 212, So.; BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ole Miss, 5-11, 215, Jr.
Kickers (tie) - James Wilhoit, Tennessee, 5-10, 195, Sr.; John Vaughn, Auburn, 6-1, 197, Sr.
All-Purpose - Keenan Burton, Kentucky, 6-2, 195, Jr.