Sure, everybody’s praising the last-minute recruiting trail heroics of Coach Franklin, us included. But Bobby Johnson had been making huge strides himself since the Music City Bowl victory. In fact, last year’s signing day class following a 2-win season was loaded with skill athletes and linemen on both sides of the ball.
This year's class of skill guys and linemen may be a notch lower than last year's but it's still solid and will nicely complement all those sophomores. But this year's collection of offensive backs and tweeners could be among Vandy's best ever.
Let’s take a look at how Vandy’s recruiting has improved position by position since 2007. Here’s the key:
4 — Player got 4 stars from either Rivals or Scout and 3 stars from the other.
3 — Player got 3 stars from both services.
3- — Player got 3 stars from one service and two from the other.
2 — Player got 2 stars from both services.
2007: QB Smith (3), RB Doster (2). Low on numbers.
2008: No players recruited. Miserable.
2009: QB Goro (3-), RBs Norman (3-), Stacy (3-) and Tate (3-). An unusually solid RB class for Vandy.
2010: QB Rodgers (3-). Death of RB Bennett (4) a huge blow.
2011: QB/ATHs Thourogood (4) and Grady (3), QB Kentera (2), RBs Seymour (3) and Hester (3-). A deep and versatile class, and one of Vandy’s best ever.
Summary: 2009 was a great year for running backs but no year has been great for quarterbacks. This year certainly appears to be different, with some exciting runners thrown in for good measure.
2007: WR Umoh (3) and ATH Graham (3-). Decent players but not nearly enough.
2008: WRs Cole (3-) and Dunham (2) and DBs Hayward (3-), Owens (3-), Richardson (2) and Powell (2). Not especially good on paper, but Hayward and Richardson were big-time sleepers.
2009: WRs Brown (3) and Ashley (3-) and DBs Foster (3-), Wilson (3-), Samuels (3-), Fullam (2) and Marshall (2). Deep and solid in the secondary but WRs haven’t panned out.
2010: WRs Krause (3), Boyd (3), Matthews (3-) and Pruitt (2) and DBs Hal (3), Butler (3), Ladler (3-), Simmons (3-) and Clarke (2). A deep and solid class all around. Franklin’s going to love these guys, nearly all of whom played as true freshmen.
2011: ATHs Kirk (3) and King (3) and DBs Franklin (3), McIntosh (-3) and Williamson (2). A versatile group that can plug holes all over the field.
Summary: We've been collecting talented DBs for three straight years now. But even promising receivers have been busts, which has caused fans to question the coaches developing our wideouts. 2010's receivers may still come up big.
2007: DE/LBs Stokes (4), Marve (2), Fugger (2) and Kadri (2) and TE/HBs Barden (3), van Rensburg (3) and Monahan (2). A reliable class. Stokes was never a superstar but Marve filled that bill. Barden could be NFL-bound.
2008: LB/DEs Jones (3), Strong (3-), Barnes (2), Thomas (2) and Daniels (2). A big class, these guys were supposed to be the future but time is running out.
2009: TE Johnston (3), DE/TE McHaney (3), DE/LB May (3-) and LB Southerland (3-). Impressive on paper; jury still out
2010: TE/HB Gowder (3), TE/LB Lassing (2) and LBs Garnham (2) and East (2). Not awe-inspiring; all these guys are still projects.
2011: TE/DEs van der Wal (4) and Bryant (3), TE Scheu (-3), LB/DEs Stewart (3-) and Hart (3-). One of Vandy’s best classes ever, but the DEs are all projects.
Summary: Since 2007's surprising class, we've gotten more 3 star players but they haven't quite panned out yet. 2011's TEs look great, unless they all go play defense. One thing's for sure, we need to recruit some linebackers in the worst way next year.
2007: OLs Fischer (3), Williams (2) and Ashabranner (2) and DT Greenstone (2). Not impressive on paper but three out of four were solid SEC linemen and two of those managed to stay in school.
2008: DTs Loftley (3-), Lohr (2), Nichter (2) and Jelesky (2), and DE/OLs Seymour (2) and Burrow (2). A big class that’s struggled to compete in the SEC.
2009: OLs Johnson (3), Brown (2) and Cabbagestalk (2). One 4-season starter and a couple of career backups.
2010: DLs Taylor (3), Morse (3), Woestmann (3) and Ryan (3) and OLs Ramsay (3), Kittredge (3), Stewart (3-), Bridges (3-) and White (2). Six consensus three-star linemen. One of Vandy’s best classes of linemen ever.
2011: OLs Lewis (3), Bernstein (3), Valedon (3-) and Pulley (3-) plus DL Dixon (3) and Townsend (2). Another rock-solid class.
Summary: The O-line has been a real weakness for two seasons, but we've got a ton of young talent — actually more than a ton.