Coming off his most successful season at the helm of Vanderbilt football, head coach Derek Mason is ready to welcome a new recruiting class to the Commodore squad on National Signing Day.
Mason has been out recruiting his 2017 class for over a year now and has 16 commits as of Tuesday, including two players who enrolled at Vanderbilt early. Many of the current commits will fill voids left by veteran players at the linebacker and offensive tackle positions. With inside linebacker Zach Cunningham and offensive linemen Barrett Gouger and Will Holden leaving, Mason will need to groom his 2017 commits to be able to play sooner rather than later.
While Vanderbilt does have 16 recruits as of now, that number can change going into signing day as players may choose to decommit. WR/S/KR McLane Mannix, who committed to the Commodores back in June, decomitted on Monday, and, according to YourBasin, he has committed to another school.
Mannix confirmed to the Hustler on Tuesday night that he will be signing his letter of intent with another school on Wednesday.
“I can say nothing but positive things about coach mason and staff as well as where Vandy’s football program is headed,” Mannix told the Hustler via Twitter DM.
“My decision was purely based on being a perfect fit offensively and I don’t feel like my skill set could be fully utilized in [offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig]’s offensive scheme. I wish nothing but success for Vandy Football.”
In addition, Safety commit Nico Bolden decommitted from the program and committed to the University of New Mexico on Tuesday.
Here are some of the top recruits that have committed to Vanderbilt so far (rankings/positional rankings/stats courtesy of 247Sports):
Dimitri Moore (outside linebacker)
Hometown: Cedar Hill, Texas
National Ranking: 665
Position Ranking: 44
Moore enrolled at Vanderbilt this spring, so expect him to potentially play a role in the Commodore defense early. He might be undersized for his position at 6’2”, 188 pounds, but he can make up for it in how versatile he is and his arm length, as you can see in his highlights. If he can bulk up a little bit, he’ll make a strong addition to this team.
Tae Daley (safety)
Hometown: Warner Robins, Georgia
National Ranking: 860
Position Ranking: 62
Daley also enrolled early, so he could see time on the field as early as this upcoming season. As the highlights show, Daley has a special combination of speed and physicality. Vanderbilt’s secondary is still very much in development, so grabbing Daley and getting him on campus early will be big for the program.
Jacob Free (pro-style quarterback)
Hometown: Brantley, Alabama
National Ranking: 607
Position rating: 24
Free threw for over 2,713 yards in 2015, and, as a pro-style quarterback, he should gel with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who loves pocket passers. His highlights show a strong pocket presence, with a budding ability to roll outside the pocket. Free might be able to blossom into a Ben Roethlisberger-style quarterback with size, power and surprising mobility. However, Kyle Shurmur will be a junior in the fall, and Deuce Wallace will be the next man up, so fans might have to wait awhile to see Free in action.
Stone Edwards (strong-side defensive end)
Hometown: Hillsborough, North Carolina
National Ranking: 621
Position Ranking: 25
A recent commit, Edwards should be a fine addition to an already stellar Vanderbilt front seven. He had 13 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss last season, so with guys like Adam Butler graduating, Edwards could be a formidable replacement in the pipeline.
Dayo Odeyingbo (strong-side defensive end)
Hometown: Carrolton, Texas
National Ranking: 633
Position Ranking: 28
Vanderbilt black and gold runs deep in the Odeyingbo family, as Dayo’s older brother, Dare, is a rising junior defensive end on the team. The younger Odeyingbo is widely considered the Commodores’ top commit so far, and if he plays anything like his older brother, he’ll be a nice addition to this defense. He’s a big, physical presence, as his highlights show, and could be a scary guy to face off against if you’re an offensive lineman.
Jalen Pinkney (weak-side defensive end)
Hometown: Norcross, Georgia
National Ranking: 817
Position Ranking: 46
Pinkney is yet another Vanderbilt football legacy, as his older brother, Jared, is a rising redshirt sophomore tight end for the Commodores. The younger Pinkney had a monster 2016 season in high school, nearly doubling his tackle total from the previous season with 71. He also picked up 23 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Vanderbilt has stocked up on defensive linemen, and Pinkney should be a strong addition to Mason’s defense.
Potential signing day commits
Mason and the Commodores have those players, along with 10 others, committed for the 2017 class. They are also waiting on decisions from a number of other recruits on signing day.
Vanderbilt has made a number of offers to players, some of whom are unlikely to sign on with the team. However, there are a few that could end up committing to the Commodores.
Here are some of the players that could put on a black and gold hat on Wednesday (rankings courtesy of 247Sports):
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (strong-side defensive end)
Hometown: Kapolei, Hawaii
National Ranking: 472
Position Ranking: 18
Offers from: Notre Dame, USC, Vanderbilt, Oregon, Navy, Air Force, Arizona, Army, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Oregon State, UNLV, Utah State, Virginia and Washington
Perhaps the highest-rated player Vanderbilt could land on Wednesday, Tagovailoa-Amosa is an absolute monster on the strong side. Coming in at 6’4” and 270 pounds, he is a force to be reckoned with on the line. He has seen his 247 ranking skyrocket into the top 500 in the last month and has fielded interest from many big schools. Many of his offers have come from West Coast schools, but he will likely decide between Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, USC and Oregon. That is elite company for the Commodores, and snagging Tagovailoa-Amosa would be a huge boost to the 2017 class.
Austin Connor (wide receiver)
Hometown: Irmo, South Carolina
National Ranking: 821
Position Ranking: 118
Offers from: Duke, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Appalachian State, Tennessee, Army, Dartmouth, East Carolina, Harvard and South Carolina
Standing at 6’0” and 180 pounds, Connor could slide in to what is slowly becoming a formidable receiver unit for the Commodores. Vanderbilt is at the top of his list, along with Duke, Georgia and Virginia Tech, so his announcement on Wednesday is very much up in the air, but the Commodores have a good shot at landing him.
Miki Suguturaga (weak-side defensive end)
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
National Ranking: 819
Position Ranking: 47
Offers from: Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington State, Arizona State, Arkansas, Army, BYU, Hawaii, Lafayette, Northern Arizona, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State and UNLV.
Vanderbilt has ramped up its presence in Hawaii this year, and this physically imposing Honolulu native is no exception. Suguturaga’s ranking has skyrocketed in recent weeks, and he made a visit to Vanderbilt just a few days ago. He has many good schools to choose from, but Vanderbilt is high on his list, along with Utah, Virginia and Washington State.
Michael Owusu (outside linebacker)
Hometown: Westlake Village, California
National Ranking: 1123
Position Ranking: 74
Offers from: Vanderbilt, Boise State, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa State, Mizzou, Purdue, San Diego State, USC, Washington, Wyoming and Stanford.
Owusu is not as highly ranked as some of the other potential Vanderbilt signees, but he is still a big piece that Vanderbilt could bring in to eventually try and replace the irreplaceable Cunningham. Despite his size and stature (6’4”, 210 pounds), Owusu still ran a 4.60 40-yard dash. He is speedy and big, which could be a lethal combination at this position. Vanderbilt has a strong chance of landing him, as 247Sports lists Vanderbilt as the only school with “warm” interest from Owusu.
Follow Vanderbilt Hustler Sports on Twitter @VUHustlerSports for complete coverage of National Signing Day. Mason will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the 2017 signing class.