(repurposed from comments, because we use every part of the schtick here at AoG)
The morning after National Signing Day, to me, feels a little like New Year's Day 2009 - waking up, shaking the cobwebs out, seeing all my black and gold scattered all over the house, all the text-messages and emails that I hadn't deleted from the previous afternoon, and coming to grips with the idea of a world where the Commodore football team had a winning record and a bowl victory. And thinking "did that really happen?"
The same feeling started yesterday, when the best man at my wedding - a 3rd-gen Virginia Tech fan - messaged me asking "did that just happen?" And I saw the news about Lafonte Thourogood - our four-star prospect with the five-star name - and realized that things are different now. In fact, there are now no less than five reasons to think that this year is the beginning of a new era in Vanderbilt football:
2) DUAL-THREATS. All three of the QB prospects were identified as dual-threat players. Van der Wal projects at tight end OR defensive end. Josh Grady is talked about at three different positions, potentially. These are guys who have the potential to go where we need them most - so instead of having a logjam at QB, we have a bunch of talent with the flexibility to be pencilled in all over the field. This is not an inconsequential advantage.
3) HERB HAND. Everything starts in the trenches. Nobody wins without an O-line. We still have Coach Hand in the fold, and he has (fiddling with calculator) over 1500 pounds of new offensive linemen to work with even before the strength and conditioning guys get to them. Superior O-line play means that guys like Warren Norman and Zac Stacy and Wes Tate will have room to run. And speaking of...
4) JERRON SEYMOUR. Living in NorCal and having a wife with her own season-tickets, I've seen a lot of Pac-12 guys that were "too small." Guys like Jahvid Best at Cal, or Jacquizz Rodgers at Oregon State, or - well, DeSean Jackson, who I personally watched break Tennessee's will with a run in 2007 that looked like something off Madden. On top of all our RB talent, we now have our own waterbug quark-back - and having Seymour's speed is just one more essential weapon in a conference defined by speed.
5) COACH. JAMES. FRANKLIN. How many guys did he bring on board just in that last weekend? How many guys did he wheedle away from other BCS-conference programs with more than one bowl appearance since the Carter administration? And he's not talking about our signees as if we're never going to get another four-star guy again - he's bringing in a top-50 recruiting class and then putting them on notice that he's going after guys who will take their jobs.
But the best thing Coach Franklin brings to the table, in my estimation, is what he doesn't know.
See, he's not from here. He doesn't have the SEC ties. He has no background with the program. He doesn't know what everybody else "knows", everyone from Biddle to Climer to the guys on 3-Hour Lunch to every other AD and coach in the conference. He doesn't "know" things are hopeless. He doesn't "know" that Vandy has no business trying to compete in SEC football. He doesn't "know" this program is a coach killer, that football is just something to kill weekends until basketball season, that no matter what, things will always collapse in the end and the program can be dismissed with "same old Vandy." And since he doesn't know any of those things, he's acting like this team is going to go out there and fight like the very devil and shock the world. And what James Franklin doesn't know is going to be hell on twelve other teams when fall comes.
The rocket is real, and you can be on it or under it, but it's going to fly. All in? Hell yes, all in.