The Golden Eagles managed to come away with a silver lining from their 49-14 loss while away against the Indiana State Sycamores on Saturday as running back Ladarius Vanlier was named the OVC Special Teams Player of the Week.
The 5 foot 8 inch junior finished Saturday’s outing with 200 all-purpose yards, which included a third quarter 72-yard punt return for a Golden Eagle Touchdown.
“That was a catch he wouldn’t have made last season,” said head coach Watson Brown of Vanlier’s 72-yard punt return. “That type of play just shows the improvements he’s made since last year.”
In addition to receiving this week’s award, Vanlier stays in the headlines by nationally ranking fifth in punt returns (20.4 yards per return), 14th in kickoff returns (26.8 yards per return) and 15th in all-purpose yards (178.5 yards per game).
Although he was awarded by the conference for his efforts on special teams, Vanlier said he would have rather been awarded with a win over the Sycamores.
“It’s an accomplishment, but nothing is more important to me than winning the game as a team,” said Vanlier.
Already a winner of the conference’s weekly special teams honor, Vanlier believes he can win more awards in his future.
“You can never be ‘too good.’ There is no ceiling to success, and I know I still have a lot I can work on,” said Vanlier. “Yeah, the award happened, but we have to move on as a team and get better before we play our next opponent.”
The Golden Eagles will travel to Hale Stadium in Nashville Sept. 20 to take on conference rival Tennessee State University.