The Hustler Sports staff has high hopes for Vanderbilt Athletics in 2024.(Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
The Hustler Sports staff has high hopes for Vanderbilt Athletics in 2024.(Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Lexie Perez

Bold predictions for Vanderbilt Athletics in 2024

On New Year’s Eve, Vanderbilt Hustler writers made eleven bold predictions about Vanderbilt Athletics in 2024.

Prediction #1: Vanderbilt Football makes it to a bowl game in 2024

Following a 2-10 season in 2023, I predict Clark Lea and the Vanderbilt Commodores to win six games in 2024. I believe Vanderbilt will rally behind Utah transfer Nate Johnson. Johnson threw for 499 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for 235 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2023. The Commodores may have lost AJ Swann and Ken Seals to the transfer portal, but Johnson will fill in at the quarterback position well in the Tim Beck-led offense. I believe Vanderbilt will go 3-0 after upsetting Virginia Tech and handling Alcorn State and Georgia State, respectively. The Commodores’ other nonconference win will come against Ball State on Oct. 19. Vanderbilt will earn two conference wins against Auburn and South Carolina. Lea will prove that he is the right coach for the Vanderbilt football program as VandyUnited will be in full effect.

Andrew Wilf, Sports Editor

Prediction #2: Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball earns an AP Top 25 Ranking and makes the NCAA Tournament

The Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball team is undoubtedly the best team on campus right now, and by the end of the season, they will find themselves with an AP Top 25 ranking and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the 2013-2014 season. Currently sitting at No.4 in the SEC with an 11-1 record, the only loss being determined by a few possessions to No. 3 NC State, this team has consistently contributed strong performances, already getting them votes on the AP Top 25 Coaches Poll. If this team continues to play at the level they have shown thus far, they should be among the top 25 within the first few weeks of conference play and the season. During conference play, 10 of the 16 games will be against teams currently ranked lower in the NET. To reach the NCAA tournament, the Commodores must secure wins against these lower-ranked conference teams while performing well against higher-ranked opponents during the SEC season and postseason. With Head Coach Shea Ralph, who is no stranger to the postseason as a player and coach, at the helm, this team will be one of the most successful teams on campus during 2024.

Grace Hall, Staff Writer

Prediction #3: Vanderbilt Men’s Golf wins its first-ever National Championship

Vanderbilt Men’s Golf is due for its first-ever team National Title. For the past few years, the Commodores have consistently been one of the favorites to win the NCAA Championships;  however, the team hasn’t found a way to win in late May. With arguably the deepest roster in the country this year, Vanderbilt has the talent to win a National Championship. There are several elite players on Scott Limbaugh’s squad, including Gordon Sargent who recently earned his PGA TOUR card for the 2024 season. Moll and Riedel are seasoned veterans who have made several appearances at the NCAA Championships. Similarly, Jackson Van Paris and Cole Sherwood had two of the most impressive fall seasons in the country. Limbaugh has created a culture of winning on West End, and 2024 could be Vanderbilt’s year to conquer college golf and win a National Title. The Commodores currently hold a No. 3 national ranking heading into the spring season, but there is no limit to what this team can achieve.

Henry Oelhafen, Staff Writer

Prediction #4: Vanderbilt Bowling 3-Leg Parlay

Vanderbilt Bowling won its third national championship last season in Las Vegas, so it’s only right that I do this prediction in the form of a parlay. And, before you question my ability to give gambling advice, know that I predicted the national title in this very same segment last year. You’re welcome in advance. First, Paige Peters nabs a First Team All-American selection. The junior opened the season with individual finishes of first and second before trailing off in the last two tournaments. That puts the reigning Third Team All-American in a position to finish among the nation’s best but a bit below where she would need to be for MVP considerations. Second, Haley Lindley wins National Newcomer of the Year. The freshman has finished in the top 25 individual standings in all four fall tournaments and should only get better as the season progresses. Third, the Commodores make it back to the Final Four. Vanderbilt is loaded with so much talent that reigning Second Team All-American Caroline Thesier came off the bench in the last fall competition. That puts them alongside the best of the best in the sport, and their No. 2 national ranking reflects that. At the same time, the difference between them and the other top competitors is not large, and last season’s runner-up Arkansas State brought back the entirety of a squad that took the finals to seven games. I won’t go so far as to predict another title for the purposes of the parlay, but not getting back to the Final Four would honestly be a shock at this point in the season.

Jayce Pollard, Assistant Sports Specialist

Prediction #5: Jerry Stackhouse is fired before the season ends 

Things have gone downhill quickly for Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball through the first portion of the 2023-24 season. Stackhouse, after being named the SEC Co-Coach of the Year in March, has failed to replicate his success from a season ago. The Commodores had an incredible turnaround last season, after a 6-6 non-conference start led to an 11-7 conference record led to NCAA Tournament considerations. Sure, Vanderbilt lost some key pieces to the transfer portal in Jordan Wright and Myles Stute. Sure, Liam Robbins ran out of eligibility and declared for the NBA Draft. Still, Stackhouse retained star backcourt Tyrin Lawrence and Ezra Manjon, along with several promising younger players while also adding key transfers in Ven Allen-Lubin, Evan Taylor and more. Yet, the Commodores have struggled mightily in the early parts of this season, and it clearly isn’t for a lack of talent. Vanderbilt looks unprepared in every game it plays, seemingly getting out-coached and outplayed by the “easy wins” it scheduled during the offseason. Stackhouse’s rotations have been questionable this season as well, a motif throughout his entire tenure in Nashville as well. It’ll take a drastic turnaround for Stackhouse to keep his job even when the season ends, but seeing as the Commodores KenPom rating is the lowest its been in decades, I don’t see him making it that far. 

Aiden Rutman, Deputy Sports Editor

Prediction #6: Jason Rivera-Torres wins SEC Men’s Basketball ROTY

There have been enough problems to sort through Vanderbilt MBB’s first 12 games of the season, but freshman Jason Rivera-Torres has been a bright spot. After sorting through some uncertainty with his minutes earlier in the season, Rivera-Torres has earned a spot in Stackhouse’s rotation as a product of his ability to score at all three levels and his length and tenacity on defense. The best example of this came in Vanderbilt’s last game, a narrow 77-75 defeat at the hands of No. 23 Memphis, where JRT scored 12 points in 13 minutes and kept the Commodores afloat for large portions of the second half as the offense went stagnant. To be taking as much responsibility as he has in the offense this early has been impressive, as is his efficiency thus far: Rivera-Torres is shooting 42.4% from behind the arc, third-best amongst SEC rookies. With so many issues across the board, I expect JRT to be pushing for a starting position by Vanderbilt’s first conference game, with his combination of talent and opportunity making him a frontrunner for SEC ROTY by the end of the season.

Anish Mago, Deputy Sports Editor

Prediction #7: Lawrence and Stackhouse both return for another season

As a senior, I feel it’s my job to temper the positivity above. Don’t get me wrong—I love Vanderbilt sports and am excited about the directions of certain programs, but we can’t be all sunshine and rainbows as sports fans. Unlike Aiden’s hope for Stackhouse’s exit above, I believe it’s wishful thinking to say that the coach will be ousted by a program that has so intimately tied the former NBA All-Star to their Vandy United initiative and new basketball facilities. Additionally, Lawrence has an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 year and has not played well enough thus far to earn himself an NBA draft guarantee (though I do believe in his long-term talent as a player). So, though it’s not what much of Commodore nation wants to hear, I think Stackhouse and Lawrence will run it back in 2024. 

Sam Curtis, Sports Copy Editor

Prediction #8: Vanderbilt Soccer returns to serious contention

Everyone can agree that the 2023 season was a rough campaign for the Commodores. After a devastating loss to Tennessee in the last game of the year, the door was slammed shut on Vanderbilt’s chances of making the NCAA tournament and even contending in the SEC tournament. However, under Darren Ambrose this program has been to five tournaments in the past seven years alongside a SEC championship in 2020 and a top four finish in 2022, meaning that hope can never be lost. Especially with blooming stars like Ella Eggleston, Courtney Jones and Hannah McLaughlin being paired up with returning leaders Addie Porter and Rachel Deresky, there’s no reason as to why this team can’t make a run once more. After a season that was simply grueling, there’s nothing but fuel to push Vanderbilt Soccer back to where it should be.

David Hernandez, Staff Writer

Prediction #9: Carter Holton becomes a superstar

After receiving all sorts of preseason accolades in 2023, Holton posted a 4.23 ERA in 11 starts before having his season cut short by injury. Now, Holton is entering his junior year – his draft year – with a lot on the line. A rough 2024 would hurt his draft prospects or make Holton consider playing a senior season. But if Holton’s stuff can get back to where it was, the Georgia native could become one of the superstars of college baseball and earn an early round draft pick, as well as national and SEC honors. Expected to be the staff’s ace again, this could be the year Holton finally makes that next step.

Frankie Sheehy, Deputy Sports Editor

Prediction #10: Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball makes the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament

For all of the disappointment in Vanderbilt sports this year, Coach Shea Ralph and the women’s basketball team have been the lone bright spot. They’ve been red-hot for the entire non-conference slate, going 11-1 and only losing a nailbiter to No. 3 NC State. Ralph’s team has been consistently excellent and will enter the SEC portion of their schedule with a whirlwind of momentum. They’ll get tested throughout SEC play by some of the top teams in the country, but this team is experienced, resilient, and ultra-talented. Thus, I’m going to take Grace’s bold prediction to another level. This team is not only going to make the NCAA Tournament, but they will win two games. For a team that hasn’t made the tournament in a decade, this would smash through even the most optimistic pre-season predictions.

Adam Burns, Staff Writer

Prediction #11: Jayden Davis was the piece the VandyBoys needed

It’s strange to call a year where the VandyBoys won the SEC championship a disappointment, because it wasn’t. I’ll gladly take some hardware home at the end of the season, no matter what hardware it is. However, in my two prior years as a Vanderbilt student, watching the VandyBoys not even touch the Super Regional round, I’m finally getting impatient. I want to go to Omaha. I will gladly blow money on food, housing, and travel to watch the VandyBoys compete for a National Championship while I’m still a student here. So when I read that Jayden Davis was coming home to Tennessee, my hopes got a lot higher. A Sophomore transfer from Samford, Jayden Davis was the top-ranked shortstop in Tennessee coming out of high school and had a 9/10 prospect rating by Perfect Game. As a member of Samford, he was top-three in basically every statistical hitting category—leading the team in batting average and hits—and set a school record with a 30-game hitting streak for a team that won the Southern Conference. Now did I watch a single Samford game last year? No, I did not. So I can’t be considered an expert on Jayden Davis. But for a kid who was a high school phenom—.625 batting average with a school record of 60 hits in a season—that went on to lead his team to a conference championship as a freshman, I have high hopes for Jayden Davis. While we’ve yet to see Davis against SEC-level competition, I’m confident he will adjust, just like he did when making the jump to Samford. With a mostly intact team from last year (minus a gaping hole in center field), Davis is a massive addition to the lineup and just what Vandy needed to return to Omaha once again.

Connor Campbell, Staff Writer 

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About the Contributors
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Director
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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