Tight end Jared Pinkney to return for redshirt senior season


Claire Barnett

Vanderbilt plays Baylor in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Thursday, December 27, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

After running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn announced on Thursday that he will forego a chance at the NFL Draft to return for his redshirt senior season, the Vanderbilt Commodores got more good news on Friday when tight end Jared Pinkney announced he would also return for one final season.

He made his announcement with a clever nod to Wolf of Wall Street.

The Commodore tight end was also considering his NFL future after a stellar 2018 campaign. He was twice named the John Mackey Award tight end of the week for his performances at Notre Dame and at Arkansas this season. He was second behind wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns this season, all career highs.

He had at least one touchdown reception in six games, including a key touchdown late in the game at Notre Dame and the opening touchdown of the season-ending rout of Tennessee.

Pinkney had a tough outing in the Texas Bowl despite making five catches for 76 yards. He had a momentum-changing fumble after a long reception in the second half and some dropped passes as well.

Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network praised Pinkney’s size (6’4”, 255 lbs.), hands and toughness, but noted he needed improvement in his athleticism and blocking ahead of this year’s NFL Draft.

With Pinkney’s return, the Commodores now bring back all of their starting wide receivers from 2018, their starting running back in Vaughn and their starting tight end. Throw in wide receiver Cam Johnson, who missed most of the 2018 season due to injury, and Vanderbilt will have plenty of weapons to ease the transition to a new quarterback.

Now, head coach Derek Mason will turn his attention to finding a new offensive coordinator to manage this well-stocked offense after Andy Ludwig left to become the offensive coordinator at Utah. Beyond that, the coaching staff will have to figure out who will start under center for the Commodores in 2019. Deuce Wallace has been touted as Kyle Shurmur’s replacement for a few years, but graduate transfer Riley Neal will also compete for the job.

Mason will wrap up his 2019 recruiting class in early February before starting spring practice.