Wise choices by Vanderbilt players

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's no secret that Vanderbilt's players hit the books as hard as they do opposing ball-carriers on Saturday afternoons.

They're also pretty astute when it comes to choosing captains.

The Commodores' players voted last week, and the three guys tabbed were exactly the three I would have chosen.

Senior center Bradley Vierling, also a captain last season, will join senior safety Ryan Hamilton and senior linebacker Patrick Benoist as the captains of the 2009 team. All three are excellent players, and all three have the kind of can-do attitude that wears off on everybody else.

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson has told me that Hamilton is one of the smartest players he's coached. Maybe that's why Hamilton always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He almost single-handedly beat Ole Miss last season.

Benoist is one of the SEC's most underrated players. He had a team-high 109 tackles last season.

It's telling that Vierling was elected as a captain last season by his teammates before he'd ever started a game for the Commodores. His leadership will be crucial in 2009 as Vanderbilt tries to build on what it did a year ago.

Vierling has made it clear that nobody is settling for status quo.

Near the end of spring practice, he said unabashedly that the Commodores, if anything, underachieved last season.

So while the bowl victory might have been historic, it was hardly the end-all for this group of players.

"Yeah, we're a winning program now, but we had to work our tails off to get to where we are, and we're just going to keep on going," Vierling said.