BRYAN, Texas -- 2012 was one of the best seasons in the history of Vanderbilt football. The Commodores tied a school record for single-season wins with nine and wrapped up the season with a win over North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl, the first time in program history they have been to bowls in back-to-back seasons.
There's a buzz around Vanderbilt football that hasn't been there in a while, or maybe ever. The team went 9-4 a year ago and won five SEC games, now they're doing their best to build on that great year.
"That was the 2012 team," said Commodores wide receiver Jordan Matthews. "The team that we have now is a totally different team, so we don't even focus on that. This a new team that's going to have to write a new chapter in the Vanderbilt book."
Vandy cornerback Andre Hal agrees, "We are headed towards the right direction. We're headed up. We have high expectation for our program this year. We had a good year last year but we're trying to do better this year."
For the most part Vanderbilt has been a perennial doormat in the SEC, but James Franklin has changed that so far in his two seasons at the helm.
The Commodores were picked to finish fourth in the SEC East this season, not a big deal for most teams, but a sign of growing respect for Vanderbilt.
"We're earning respect and I think the perception of Vanderbilt football is changing, but I don't think there's any doubt the difference between year three compared to year two and year one," Franklin said.
"Well it's nice having that respect, mostly because we have never had that respect," said tackle Wesley Johnson. "It's pretty cool to know that people look at us that way. It's kind of a reward for our hard work."
Vandy has seven starters coming back on both sides of the ball. They will have to replace quarterback Jordan Rogers, but whoever wins the job will have some weapons to work with, including one of the best wide receivers in the SEC in Jordan Matthews.
"He works very, he's probably the hardest worker on our team," said Hal. "He has the size, he has the speed, but he still works hard. He has all the credentials. He's All-American, all-this, all-that, but he still works hard."
The Commodores open the year with an SEC game against Ole Miss August 29.
They will make their first ever trip to Kyle Field October 26.