Vanderbilt football was dealt a pair of blows on the recruiting trail this weekend, as the team lost one of its most highly-rated recruits and saw an All-American target commit to a conference rival.
Minnesota wideout Andre McDonald was one of three Vanderbilt recruits to pick up All-American status by Sports Illustrated in 2011 and one of the crown jewels of coach James Franklin's 2012 class. On Friday, he announced that he would re-open his recruitment process, citing the departure of wide receivers' coach Chris Beatty as the catalyst behind the move. Beatty left Nashville in order to take a bigger coaching role at Illinois this fall. While the 'Dores still have a shot to bring him back into the fold, Big Ten schools Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota are thought to be the senior's new front-runners.
That wasn't the only bad news for Franklin and his staff this weekend. All-American safety Jordan Diggs had narrowed his recruiting choices down to three schools heading into yesterday's U.S. Army All-American game. On Saturday, he chose South Carolina over Vanderbilt and Tennessee. While Vandy will still have plenty of talent in their defensive backfield, Diggs was the kind of player who could have carried on the Commodore tradition of stout secondary play.
It's bad news for Vanderbilt, but also an indicator of how far this team has come in a very short period of time. Diggs is the second All-American in the past three weeks to strongly consider coming to Dudley Field before signing with a more established team. While losing out on guys like Diggs, McDonald, and quarterback Gunner Kiel is tough for the Commodores, their current list of commitments is still light years ahead of even last year's class in the national rankings.