Days after three-star wideout recruit Jaydrick Declouet decommitted from Vanderbilt, James Franklin's crew shrugged off the loss by adding four-star receiver Andre McDonald. The signing was another marquee grab for the Commodores. McDonald, a 6'3", 200 pound standout, is ranked alongside tailback Brian Kimbrow and defensive ends Caleb Azubuike and Stephen Weatherly as the team's highest-rated recruits for the 2012 season.
However, the most impressive thing about the signing could be how Franklin's staff pulled it off. After toiling in Georgia and Florida to pull some of the biggest recruits in Vanderbilt history, the coaches went north to pluck McDonald out of Minnetonka, Minnesota. The team went into Big Ten country and convinced a major-league possession receiver to choose Nashville over places like Columbus, Champaign, and his hometown Minneapolis. Now, James Franklin can add Ohio State to the growing list of team's he's sniped recruits from.
This expansion is an encouraging sign, to say the least. Most of the team's top prospects in 2012 had come from the south so far. It had appeared that Franklin's staff was focused on selling the SEC's top academic school to high school students who had grown up in Team Speed country - an easier task thanks to the familiarity of the league. With McDonald's signing, the Commodores have proven that Franklin's pitch of building a legacy applies outside of the southeast, even up against proven NCAA powerhouses.
As for the player himself, McDonald will have the chance to immediately bolster a developing corps of receivers. Though Chris Boyd, Jordan Matthews, and Jonathan Krause appear to be the team's immediate future at the position, there will be opportunities for the big target to play immediately thanks to the graduations of John Cole and Udom Umoh. His size will make him a big-time red zone target for Jordan Rodgers, Josh Grady, or Austyn Carta-Samuels next season.
So maybe Saturday's comeback win against UConn was bigger than we realized. McDonald had to have been pleased with the step forward that Franklin's squad took by not folding in the face of adversity against the Huskies. Now, he'll get that chance to witness that firsthand as a member of the class of 2012.