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Vanderbilt safety Reshard Langford (33), a graduate of Tanner, is one of nine players from Alabama on the Vanderbilt roster. He is a three-year starter for the Commodores, who host the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Kickoff is 11:30 a.m.
AP photo by Mark Humphrey
Vanderbilt safety Reshard Langford (33), a graduate of Tanner, is one of nine players from Alabama on the Vanderbilt roster. He is a three-year starter for the Commodores, who host the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Kickoff is 11:30 a.m.

Alabama commodores
Tanner's Langford, 8 other state players on Vanderbilt roster

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

NASHVILLE — Vanderbilt's Reshard Langford won't let himself get into that argument with his teammates.

When another player at Vanderbilt talks about Georgia high school football or Mississippi prep football, Langford lets his fellow Alabamians on the team handle the discussion.

Luckily for Langford, there are enough players on the Commodores' roster to pick up his slack when his home-state's football prowess comes into question.

"That's an argument I don't get in, and they do it every day," said Langford, a Tanner High graduate who is starting at safety for the third straight year. "It's a good thing that people from Alabama are getting noticed from out of state."

Vanderbilt has nine players from Alabama on its roster, which is third most behind Tennessee with 20 and Georgia with 19.

Along with Langford, two of the nine are Vanderbilt's top skill-position players in quarterback Chris Nickson, the 2003 Alabama Mr. Football recipient, and All-SEC wide receiver Earl Bennett.

Also, waiting in the wings at quarterback is Larry Smith, the 2006 Alabama Mr. Football winner from Prattville High.

They all will be ready — except Smith who is scheduled for a redshirt season — to help Vanderbilt (1-0) when it hosts the Crimson Tide (1-0) on Saturday in Nashville. Kickoff is set for 11:45 a.m.

"It's an adjacent state, and they play good football down there," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.

"Of course, we're going down there to recruit and see how many players are Vanderbilt material and recruit the heck out of them."

Langford said he took one other recruiting trip besides Vanderbilt, and it was to Southern Mississippi, where he was shown the football facilities and nothing else. But at Vanderbilt, it was a little different.

“When I got here, they showed me everything,” Langford said. “They showed me classes, dorms, the recreation center and the football stadium — everything that I could use as a student.”

Oddly enough, Langford’s roommate his freshman year was Nickson, who had a more complicated recruiting process.

A quarterback in high school, Nickson wanted to continue playing the position in college. But several schools wanted the athletic Pike County High star to move to another position.

Vanderbilt recruited Nickson as a quarterback.

“They told me I could play where I wanted to play, and if I wanted, to move I could,” Nickson said. “They said all the right things.”

According to Bennett, there is no name for the passing connection between him and his quarterback. But since they are both from Alabama, he thinks that they should come up with something.

“We may need to name it because we have a couple of guys from Georgia who try to tag team against us,” Bennett joked.

Bennett, a junior, might be the most prolific of Vanderbilt’s lot from Alabama. The 6-foot-1, 202-pound receiver had 13 catches last week against Richmond and needs only 35 receptions to break Craig Yeast’s SEC record of 208 that he set in four years at Kentucky.

A West End High grad, Bennett was recruited by Kentucky and Notre Dame. He publicly committed to Kentucky then decided to go to Vanderbilt.

“Sometimes I think, ‘What if those guys were playing on our team?’ ” said Alabama cornerback Simeon Castille, a Briarwood Christian graduate who played against Bennett in high school.

“It is kind of cool, them being from Alabama and going somewhere else to play. It makes it more interesting when you’re playing somebody from your home state.”

And that is part of the issue with Vanderbilt’s Alabama contingent. Growing up in a football-crazed state that centers on two teams — Alabama and Auburn — and getting more attention from them during recruiting plays into their minds a little.

“(A win Saturday) would be good for the simple fact that a lot of guys who are here from Alabama, didn’t get recruited by Alabama,” Langford said. “They came up here to help turn this program around, and that means a lot.”

Vanderbilt at Alabama

11:30 a.m.

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