Originally created 04/18/99

Vinson drafted by Green Bay



NORTH AUGUSTA -- He wore the blue recliner like a favorite sweater.

Moving only to answer the portable phone that rang incessantly, he had no time for food. His mind was trained on ESPN the same way he zeros in on a receiver.

Vanderbilt cornerback Fred Vinson was a model of passiveness while he watched the NFL draft on Saturday. Finally, 47 picks and seven hours into the draft, Vinson learned he'll exchange a helmet emblazoned with a `V' for one with a `G.'

The Green Bay Packers made the North Augusta High School product the eighth cornerback selected in the 1999 draft with their second-round pick. A phone call from Packers coach Ray Rhodes and general manager Ron Wolf pulled the 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster off the recliner and into the NFL.

"I'm on cloud nine," Vinson said. "I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to start training and getting on the football field. This is what I've wanted for a while."

Vinson, who runs a 4.3 40, felt vilified by reaching the pinnacle of his sport. He recorded 30 tackles and three interceptions during his senior season.

Torn ligaments in his left foot ended his senior campaign with the Commodores. Vinson started every contest his sophomore and junior seasons following a prep career that garnered few looks from college recruiters.

"I never had any problems," Vinson said. "I knew I was good and I never lost confidence in myself."

Green Bay chose Clemson cornerback Antwan Edwards in the first round. Vinson will have a shot at a starting spot because the Packers' secondary is full of question marks heading into next season.

The Vinson family expects to add to its frequent-flier miles in Fred's rookie campaign. Fred Sr. and Vickie Vinson missed just two games during Vinson's tenure at Vanderbilt.

"I was a Commodore, now I'm a Cheesehead," Fred Sr. said. "We're just a plane ticket away."

Vinson will head back to Vanderbilt either tonight or Monday morning. The double-major will graduate with degrees in engineering science and math.

He quietly grew frustrated as the second round proceeded without his name being called. Vinson understood his surgery-repaired foot would cause some tribulation among some of the NFL teams. He wasn't expecting to fall to the middle of the second round, however.

"I didn't think I'd be taken that low," Vinson said. "I always thought I was in the top five (cornerbacks). (Green Bay) thought a lot of me to choose a player that had an injury."

Jimmy DeButts is a sports writer for The Augusta Chronicle . He can be reached at (706) 823-3221.