Not sure which high school seniors are going to sign with Vanderbilt? You're not alone. In fact, you'd best wait until next Wednesday to find out.
If you follow the commitment lists on Scout, Rivals and ESPN, you'll see that 16 players are headed to Vanderbilt. But not all the sites list the same players. Here's a breakdown:
ALL THREE SITES (12)
• Jake Bernstein, OG/OT
• Conor Hart, DE
• Mitchell Hester, RB
• J.J. Keels, RB
• Derek King, ATH
• Jacquese Kirt, DB
• James Lewis, OT
• Larry Mazyck, OT
• Jahmel McIntosh, ATH
• Spencer Pulley, OT
• Steven Scheu, TE
• Jose Valedon, OG/OT
SCOUTS & ESPN
• Damien Fleming, QB
• Marquis Sumler, RB
• Courtney Bynes, WR
• Shaun White, QB
So how many of these guys are really headed to Vanderbilt? From what I'm hearing, the four players not on every list — Fleming, Sumler, Bynes and White — will not be matriculating at Vanderbilt. Also, it sounds like J.J. Keels has just changed his mind, or had his mind changed for him.
In the past month or two, Alex Barr and Keith Heitzman changed their minds and switched to NC State and Michigan, respectively. But these last-minute defections appear to be the decision of Coach Franklin and staff. The reasons may include academics or just not fitting into the plans of the new regime.
So that means we have 11 recruits. Does that worry you?
It doesn't worry me. Right now, Franklin is saddled with a gigantic class of redshirt juniors signed before the Music City Bowl season and composed of mostly two star prospects. We're talking 19 players, including five linebackers who have yet to start more than a single game in their careers. He'll have a bunch of scholarships to give when those guys finally leave, but in the meantime every scholarship is valuable.
Last season, the Commodores made a last-minute offer to Fitz Lassing, a local scholar whose other offer was from Harvard. And when Rajaan Bennett died, they filled his scholarship with long snapper Andrew East.
You won't see Franklin doing that. He's made a bunch of moves in the last few weeks, and all are aimed at improving the team. Both quarterbacks, neither who had other SEC offers or fit into the new system, are apparently gone. A couple of guys who could have been academic casualties were asked to go to prep school and left. Bynes was fast but was unrated by most services, and he's probably gone too. Sumler and Keels, if he indeed is gone, were athletic, change-of-pace offensive players, but in their place we've added athletes Kirk and McIntosh, and we've already got King and Hester.
And Franklin has added Mazyck, the kind of ridiculously huge lineman we only dream of getting, and a big SEC tight end in Steven Scheu.
Don't be surprised to see Franklin pick up a quarterback he really wants, and maybe a few other surprises. And if he can't improve this class, he's not going to be making sentimental offers. He'll save those scholarships for next season. Because, after all, his main recruiting focus is on the class of 2012, and I'm predicting that could be a truly exceptional class by our standards.
Six more days till signing day.