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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt Football Signing Day: Clark Lea, Vanderbilt make big splashes for Class of 2024

Nearly one month after going 2-10, Clark Lea and the Commodores made their first step at turning the corner with the signing of 19 recruits from the Class of 2024.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Clark Lea and Vanderbilt staff members cheer on National Signing Day on Dec. 20, 2023. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

On Wednesday, Dec. 20, head coach Clark Lea and the Vanderbilt coaching staff formally signed 19 high schoolers from the Class of 2024 to a National Letter of Intent during early signing period of National Signing Day. The signing class is ranked 38th by Rivals, 40th by 247Sports, 40th by On3 and 45th by ESPN

“Signing Day is a great day of celebration,” Lea said. “As we continue to build this roster out and build this team out, certainly, we want to stay committed to developing high school players in our program and we brought some good ones in today.”

National Signing Day marks the end of football’s 2023 chapter and an opportunity for Lea and the Commodores to look ahead to their 2024 season. Vanderbilt comes off of an underwhelming season in 2023, where it went 2-10 in competition. Despite losing AJ Swann, Ken Seals, Will Sheppard, Ethan Barr, Jayden McGowan, London Humphreys, De’Rickey Wright and 11 other student-athletes to the transfer portal, Lea looks forward to seeing the revamped Vanderbilt roster, made new through the signing of transfers and recruits, take the field next season.

“This marks the end of the fall and winter for us and the point at which we can turn the page and look forward to 2024,” Lea said. “We’re here to win. It’s what we’re here to do and obviously, we’re not happy with this season but we’re anxious to turn the page.”

Lea’s press conference came just four days after Tim Beck was hired as Vanderbilt’s next offensive coordinator, replacing the recently fired Joey Lynch. Beck most recently served as the offense coordinator for New Mexico State (2022-23). Before that, he spent time as the head coach of the Pittsburg State Gorillas (2010-19) before serving as an offensive analyst at TCU (2021-22).

“I love his experience,” Lea said. “I love the fact that he has head coaching experience. I think that I’m going to lean on him to be the head coach of the offense as I take on more responsibilities defensively and ultimately we found the guy that we need to lead that offense forward.”

Beck will call the offense, which will likely be led by quarterback Nate Johnson, who committed to Vanderbilt on Sunday. The four-star quarterback spent two seasons at the University of Utah. After redshirting in 2022, Johnson appeared in seven games in 2023 and threw for 499 yards and 5 touchdowns. 

Let’s first dive into the offensive recruits from the Class of 2024.


Vanderbilt’s quarterback room will look a lot more different in 2024 than it did in 2023, with Drew Dickey representing the only returning quarterback for the Commodores. The other four quarterbacks on the depth chart will be Johnson, Blaze Berlowitz, Whit Muschamp and Jérémy St-Hilaire.

Muschamp and St-Hillaire are both three-star recruits that reign from Tennesee high school programs. Muschamp led Chattanooga-based Baylor School to a state championship in 2023. The son of Georgia co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp threw for 3,187 yards, 31 touchdowns and 2 interceptions during his senior season.

St-Hillaire will join Vanderbilt next season after spending his junior and senior seasons at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Canada native threw for 2,678 yards, 25 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in his senior season. St-Hillaire is the 43rd-ranked quarterback from the Class of 2024, according to 247Sports.

“J [Jérémy] and Whit both have athleticism and they’re both good in terms of moving the pocket and creating with their legs,” Lea said. “ They both can throw the ball. They’re both great competitors and I believe that their both going to find success here in the new system.”

In addition to signing two quarterbacks, Vanderbilt inked a trio of three-star wide receivers. The Commodores’ three new wideouts are Markeis [Boski] Barett Jr., Tristen Brown and Joseph McVay. All three will be a welcome addition to a program that just lost its top three wide receivers from 2023 (Sheppard, Humphreys and McGowan) to the transfer portal.

Vanderbilt also inked Johann Cardenas, a running back from Texas, on Wednesday. Cardenas will join a backfield led by rising sophomores Sedrick Alexander and AJ Newberry. Cardenas rushed for 2,266 yards and 44 touchdowns on 249 attempts in his senior season at St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas. The tailback will bring an added layer of speed to Vanderbilt’s running room, as the speedster ran a personal best 11.2 second 100-meter dash in in high school. 

The Commodores will also bring in a four-star recruit to the offense with the signing of Witt Edwards becoming official. Edwards was named to the 2024 Freaks List by 247Sports and was the third-best recruit in Oklahoma, according to ESPN

“To know Witt, you have to know his family and it’s a support ground unlike many that I’ve been around,” Lea said. “He is a very talented player that could play on either side of the ball. We’ve recruited him primarily to be a tight end.”

Vanderbilt also signed tight end Brycen Coleman and offensive linemen Josh Raymond and CJ Williams. 


In 2023, Vanderbilt’s defense ranked 126th in FBS in points allowed, averaging an SEC-worst 36.17 points per game. The Commodores also ranked 122nd in FBS in third down conversion percentage, allowing their opponents to convert 77 of 164 (47%) third down attempts. As a result, once the season concluded, Lea fired defensive coordinator Nick Howell

Vanderbilt lost several key pieces on its defense this offseason, but made several defensive signings on Wednesday from the Class of 2024 to help negate those losses. Vanderbilt’s highest-rated commitment was safety Dontae Carter: The four-star defender from Cibolo, Texas will look to make an immediate impact at Vanderbilt. He notched 140 tackles and had 14 interceptions across his final two seasons at Byron P. Steele High School, and comes in as the second-best safety in the Class of 2024, according to On3. 

Vanderbilt defensive ends coach Jovan Haye looking at pictures of Vanderbilt’s defensive recruits on Dec. 20, 2023. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

“We’ve needed improved play in the back end of our defense,” Lea said. “Dante is a guy that we think can come in and have an immediate impact that way. He’s going to have to earn it and he knows that. Nothing will be given to him but we believe in his abilities. I love his mentality.”

Joining Carter in the secondary will be Tate Hamby, Alvin Williamson Jr. and Jaylin Lackey. These four defensive backs will look to improve a Vanderbilt defense that allowed 279.6 passing yards per game in 2023, which was the sixth-worst in all of FBS.

Lea will also bring in defensive lineman Glenn Seabrooks III. Seabrooks III went to school at Davidson Academy in Nashville, Tenn, and broke a school record when he once recorded a 555-pound squat. The 310-pound nose tackle will look to use his elite strength to wreak havoc on SEC backfields for years to come. Joining Seabrooks III in the trenches will be Calahan Blair and Simeon Boulware, and one level above them will be linebacker Mason Carter.

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About the Contributor
Andrew Wilf
Andrew Wilf, Sports Editor
Andrew Wilf (’24) is Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He is from Livingston, N.J., and is majoring in history and minoring in business. He joined the sports staff his freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Deputy Sports Editor. Beyond writing for The Hustler, he is also the host of Anchor Analysis, Commodore Clash and Live From West End. In his free time, Andrew enjoys watching the NFL and playing golf. He can be reached at [email protected].
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