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November 15, 2005

Vandy's Bennett earns frosh honors

At Rivals.com, we have the utmost respect for the Southeastern Conference and the people in the conference office.

And we think it's nice that they gave their freshman of the week honor to Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick, who had a solid game in a victory over Ole Miss.

We give out the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week, and ours is also going to an SEC player - just not the same one.

Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett had a historic outing against Kentucky on Saturday. The true freshman caught 13 passes for 99 yards and five touchdowns, including three TDs in the fourth quarter as a furious comeback bid by the Commodores fell short, 48-43.

In the history of the SEC only one other player - regardless of class - has caught five scores in a game. LSU's Carlos Carson did it in 1977.

Dick, who passed for 175 yards and three TDs in a 28-17 win over Ole Miss, was also considered for the award.

Bennett, from Birmingham, Ala., has been on an absolute tear. He has 35 receptions for 378 yards and eight touchdowns in the past three games. Yet Bennett's efforts have gone largely unrewarded and unrecognized.

In an interview with Rivals.com, Bennett humbly shrugged off the attention - or lack thereof - and said he's just doing his part.

"At the start of the year, I just wanted to come in and help any way that I could," Bennett told Rivals.com. "(During the Kentucky game) I was just focused on doing whatever I could to win the game. I wasn't really paying attention to the numbers or anything."

But the SEC office is paying attention, and they face tough decisions every week when it comes time to hand out the awards.

"With all of our awards - we have six - they're all pretty competitive each week," SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom told Rivals.com. "We usually narrow it down to two or three players and have to make a tough decision from there."

Bloom said game stats are obviously the most important criteria, but the impact of the performance is also weighed.

"If someone catches 10 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, and the next player catches three passes for 50 yards and the game-winning touchdown, the second guy is going to get a slight bump up because of the importance," Bloom said.

"Could you say we made a bad decision? Maybe you could, but that's the criteria we choose by," Bloom added. "It's a tough call, and I wish we could give out two or three awards."

Other freshmen of note:

• Arkansas freshman quarterback Casey Dick completed 17-of-24 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns as the Razorbacks topped Ole Miss, 28-17.

• Oklahoma State running back Mike Hamilton piled up 161 rushing yards and one touchdown during the Cowboys' 24-17 upset of No. 13 Texas Tech.

• Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after setting career highs with 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks as part of an Iowa defense that limited Wisconsin to season lows in total offensive yards (276) and points (10) during a victory in Madison.

• Oklahoma had a pair of freshmen step up in the Sooners' 36-30 win over Texas A&M. Quarterback Rhett Bomar completed 20-of-28 passes for 298 yards and a score, while freshman receiver Malcolm Kelly caught five passes for 118 yards.

• South Carolina had another strong outing from two of its freshmen. Mike Davis rushed for 88 yards and two scores, and Sidney Rice caught five passes for 112 yards as the Gamecocks defeated Florida, 30-22.

• Miami defensive back Kenny Phillips turned in an impressive game against Wake Forest, tallying 10 tackles, including one for loss, and a fumble recovery.

• Georgia receiver Mohamed Massaquoi caught five passes for 108 yards and a touchdown during the Bulldogs' 31-30 loss to Auburn.


Previous Freshmen of the Week:
Week 1: James Davis, Clemson
Week 2: Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern
Week 3: Kenny Phillips, Miami
Week 4: DeSean Jackson, California
Week 5: Antoine Caldwell, Alabama
Week 6: Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern
Week 7: Steve Slaton, West Virginia
Week 8: Darren McFadden, Arkansas
Week 9: Sidney Rice, South Carolina
Week 10: Andre Brown, N.C. State


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