Vanderbilt completes impressive 2018 football recruiting class


Alec Myszka

Aug 22, 2014: Vanderbilt’s head football coach, Derek Mason, speaks to students about the upcoming season during the VPB Palooza in the SLC.

Betsy Goodfriend, Senior Writer

The Vanderbilt Commodores officially welcomed five more new recruits to round out a 21-player 2018 recruiting class that head coach Derek Mason called his “best class” since arriving on West End

This year’s National Signing Day was less eventful than in previous years because the majority of Vanderbilt’s recruits signed in December, during the inaugural Early Signing Period.

Vanderbilt’s recruiting class was ranked 41st in the country by 24/7 Sports, 46th by Rivals, and 37th by ESPN. This class is Mason’s highest-ranked in his four years in Nashville.

“I’m excited about this class,” said Mason. He specifically mentioned the class’s length and athleticism as key features.

Mason said his recruitment philosophy was to “recruit great skill and let them play.” He singled out the wide receivers as a group that should bring that skill to practice right away.

Vanderbilt signed 17 players in December, highlighted by many local stars. Four signees came from the state of Tennessee, including three from the Nashville area.

Gavin Schoenwald is one of those hometown kids. He is a 6-4 tight ends from Brentwood who also played quarterback in high school. Mason said he will stick with tight end at Vanderbilt.

Schoenwald’s teammate Cam Johnson was one of seven four-star recruits Vanderbilt signed in December. Johnson provides another weapon at wide receiver for quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who already has rising junior standout Kalija Lipscomb and Ohio State transfer Alex Stump in the fold.

Other four-star recruits include teammates Dan Dawkins, Jr. and quarterback Allan Walters from the Peddie School in New Jersey, defensive backs Tre’ Douglas and Brendon Harris, Rutger Reitmaier, and Alston Orji.

Two of the five late signees are graduate transfers from Ivy League schools. Louis Vecchio is a defensive lineman from Penn who was first team All-Ivy the past two seasons.

Mason recruited Vecchio when he was still the defensive coordinator at Stanford and was excited to sign him. Mason mentioned Vecchio’s length and experience as two of his strengths.

Columbia punter Parker Thome also signed with the Commodores. Thome is expected to be the starting punter for the 2018 season after Sam Loy announced his transfer in December.

Thome was named first team All-Ivy this past season and ranked 11th in the nation in yards per punt with an average of 42.9 yards.

Amir Abdur-Rahman is a three-star wide receiver out of Atlanta.

BJ Anderson and Lorenza Sugars join the defensive side. Both were not heavily-recruited by Mason’s staff until after the early signing period. They were pursued to provide depth at defensive back and defensive line, respectively.

Mason said that he liked the early signing period because it gave him a chance to sign his most committed recruits and then reevaluate areas of need before the February signing date.

“I thought it was a great first signing period,” said Mason.

Rounding out the class are December signees CJ Bolar, Ben Bresnahan, Dashaun Jerkins, Ja’veon Marlow, Elijah McAllister, Javan Rice, Wyatt Smock, Tyler Steen, and Max Worship.