Monday, June 27, 2011

Vandy recruiting class is so far so good

Right now, Vandy has eight verbal commitments – o-lineman Gouger, d-back Head, linebackers Sealand and Herring, and defensive ends Griffin, Banks, Weatherly and Dawson.

This time last season, we had only one – tackle James Lewis, who’s about to start his Vandy career.

As you know last season’s class was a revolving door, with 13 recruits committed when James Franklin was hired, but that number quickly shrank to only six, with the following guys either jumping ship or being thrown overboard:

• WR Courtney Bynes to Western Michigan
• RB Marquis Sumler to Western Kentucky
• RB JJ Keels to South Alabama
• QB Shaun White to MTSU
• QB Damien Fleming to Florida A&M
• DE Keith Heitzman to Michigan
• OL Alex Barr to NC State

Looks like only the last two guys jumped ship as opposed to being thrown overboard. In retrospect, it’s unbelievable what Franklin did in such a short time:

• He held on to 80 percent of a solid offensive line class, keeping top recruits James Lewis and Jake Bernstein, as well as Spencer Pulley and Jose Valedon.
• He kept cornerback Derek King, who’d turned down offers to Auburn and UT.
• He replaced Bynes with athletes Jacquese Kirk, Jahmel McIntosh and Darrien Bryant.
• He replaced running backs Sumler and Keels with the more highly regarded Mitchell Hester and Jerron Seymour.
• He replaced quarterbacks White and Fleming with four-star Lafonte Thorougood, three-star Josh Grady, and raw talent Kris Kentera.
• He stole Thourogood from Virginia Tech, McIntosh from Memphis, four-star athlete Dillon van der Wal from Arizona State, and hulking defensive end Barron Dixon from Mississippi State.
• He also added a big Barden clone at tight end in Steven Scheu; an athletic safety, Larry Franklin; another big strong safety who could play LB, Andrew Williamson; a quick defensive end, Jimmy Stewart; and raw but versatile lineman Joe Townsend.

Not bad, huh?

We’re rumored to be getting a boatload more commitments any day now. It’ll be interesting to see what Franklin does with a full recruiting season.

And it’ll be interesting to see if some of our recruits jump ship when the season starts and the inevitable losses come while Franklin rebuilds. In 2009, after the bowl victory, we had 11 commitments by the end of June. Two of them, TE Davis Dudchock and QB Nash Nance, jumped ship.

Wonder how Nash likes carrying that orange clipboard? He’d better get used to it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Six commitments on one day? Vandy fans dare to dream

ESPN's Jamie Newberg has a crazy, largely unsourced story speculating that six Tennessee prospects are going to meet up at a sports bar in Nashville next week and commit to Vanderbilt.

I love it. At the least, Vandy fans and one guy in the national media really believe in James Franklin.

Let's take a quick look at these six guys who could commit to Vandy — or not — in the order I'd like to get ’em:

• Drae Bowles: A 6-1, 205-pound WR who gets 4 stars across the board. We just don't sign guys like this, ever. Getting a 4-star wideout would be a huge step for the Commodores, and that's why he's my most coveted recruit.
• Blake Bars: A 6-5, 275-pound offensive tackle from MBA, Wesley Johnson's alma mater in Nashville; four stars from Rivals, three each from the other guys. He'd be our highest rated OL recruit probably ever.
• Brian Kimbrow: A 5-9, 165-pound athlete who's probably the fastest player in the 2012 signing class and who has an offer from USC, which means he has an offer from everybody else too. Why is he not my No. 1 recruit? Well, a 165-pound guy who's considering playing running back behind our O-line? How smart is he? But seriously, I'd love to have an electrifying athlete like this guy wearing black and gold.
• Andrew Jelks: A 6-6, 260-pound offensive tackle who's a rock-solid 3-star recruit and who's highly coveted by the Vols, who know something about recruiting O-linemen. It would be a huge deal to land two true tackles like Bars and Jelks.
• Caleb Azubike: A raw, 6-5, 240-pound DE who runs a 4.7 40 and is a solid 3 star recruit in everybody's book. With all the DEs we've already got verbals from, we don't badly need him, but why not get another big strong fast guy?
• Corey Batey: Another private school guy from Nashville, he's a 6-1, 185-pound WR who gets 3 stars from Rivals, 2 from Scout and none for the time being from ESPN. He does run a 4.4 40. But so does John Cole. Not convinced that this is our guy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vandy signs Paris Head, gains key ground at Buford HS

Maybe you’ve heard that Vandy just got its eighth verbal commitment, from defensive back Paris Head. This is a big deal because Head is a big, strong, fast kid who can play corner or safety or even wide receiver. You may have heard we need more receivers.

But it’s an even bigger deal because he’s from a major talent pipeline in the Atlanta area. Remember how we worried about losing Ted Cain, a pretty lousy offensive coordinator but a solid recruiter in the Atlanta area?

Well, Coach Franklin and his staff are taking it to the next level. Seven of their verbal commitments are from the Atlanta area, and the eighth is in Chattanooga, right on the Georgia line.

Paris Head is one of ten major college prospects graduating next spring from Buford High School. Nice place to get a foothold, huh?

The other schools – Tucker (4-star DE Josh Dawson and 4-star LB Jacob Sealand), North Atlanta (4-star DE/OLB Stephen Weatherly), North Cobb (3-star DE Tre Griffin), East Paulding (3-star DE Ladarius Banks) and especially Stephenson in Stone Mountain (4-star LB Darreon Herring) – all have multiple prospects this year and more on the way for the 2013 signing class.

Speaking of Stephenson High School, which is also the home of sophomore safety Kenny Ladler, that school has a whopping 21 major college prospects this season and at least six already on the radar for 2013.

While Tre Griffin is probably our lowest rated prospect at this point, he’s from North Cobb High School, which already has three prospects on the 2013 radar.

Walton High School, home of junior punter Richard Kent and redshirt freshman defensive end Kyle Woestmann, has at least three prospects as well. Camden County, home of junior tackle Ryan Seymour, and Collins Hill, home of senior defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone, also have some good looking prospects.

So getting Paris Head was a big deal, because it further plants the Vandy flag in Atlanta, where there are a ton of great prospects who’ve yet to commit – or who can be stolen on signing day.

In case you've been wondering, we plan to crank back up here at Moral Victory as we approach the start of football season. Some questions we'll answer:

• What's up with all the defensive ends we're signing?
• Where will our incoming freshmen, especially all those guys listed as athletes, "jumbo athletes" or at multiple positions, end up playing for us?
• How are we looking at quarterback after the not-very-surprising departure of Charlie Goro and all the rumors swirling about Austyn Carta-Samuels transferring from Wyoming?

Anything else you'd like to talk about?