Football Class Brimming with Unprecedented Talent
The biggest difference of all of the differences since Coach James Franklin has gotten to Vandy is the recruiting. Literally the lowest rated guys in the last two classes would have been near the top of many historic Vandy classes.
We're currently four and a half months from signing day, and our class is already almost full. Vandy has 21 commitments and is only expected to take two more guys. So at this point, the name of the game is selectivity for new recruits and holding on to our current commitments.
With our current commits we are ranked #15 in the country according to Rivals and #20 from 247. This class could very easily surpass last year's class as probably the greatest recruiting class we've ever had.
Our biggest needs for this season are probably running back (trying to replace Zac Stacy) and defensive back, but as has been the goal since Franklin arrived, the staff was keen to add as many guys with SEC speed and size at every position.
A quick run-down by position of what we have and what we want: (uncommitted recruits listed in italics)
- QB: Commits: 2, No more needs.
Vandy hit it big with our first commitment, Johnathon McCrary, a consensus 4* ranked the #6 dual-threat QB in the nation by Rivals. He was then joined by Chad Kanoff of Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.), a 3* who through seven games this season has a 65% completion percentage, with 33 TDs and only 3 INTs.
- RB: Commits: 1, would like one more, preferably a large one.
Our one current recruit at RB is one of the staff's most favorite players, Johnathan "Rudy" Ford, a 3* from Alabama who they believe is hugely underrated. Ford isn't a particularly small back, but as our other backs are on the small side, the coaches really want a bigger back. Targets include current Auburn commit Jordan Wilkins (who's brother Trey is a walk-on receiver for Vandy) and Ashton Shumpert. Vandy is also still really after local star Corn Elder from Ensworth, who isn't the big back they are after, but is such an incredible (and local) athlete that they would be ecstatic to have him.
- WR: Commits: 4, no more needs.
Headliners are two huge gets, both rated high 3 or 4* on all services, the 6'2 Carlos Burse and 6'3 DeAndre Woods the kind of big target WR we haven't been able to get since Boyd and Matthews.
- TE: Commits: 1, could possibly take one more.
The coaches are looking for added production at TE as our 3 freshmen TEs are not exactly asserting themselves. We currently have 3* Nathan Marcus committed, and that could be it. Coaches have previously expressed interest in recent Colorado decommit Mitchell Parsons, so he could be in play as well.
- OL: Commits: 0, would take one if they really liked him.
Vandy took a bunch of linemen last season (all of whom are on the path to RS) and several more the year before, so it isn't really a major target this season as they haven't taken any yet and don't seem to be concerned even if they take none. They do have an offer out to Chad Kanoff's teammate Thomas Oser.
- DE: Commits: 4 and that's probably it.
This has been a big target for coaches the last two years and they hit it big again with the quartet of Mack Weaver, Landon Stokes, Mike Tyler, and Jonathan Wynn.
- DT: Commits: 1, possibly one more.
Getting big bodies who qualify academically has always been tough for Vandy and they definitely got it this year in Jay Woods, a highly touted 3* from Georgia. Coaches might like to add one more, possibly big space-eater Tevin Montgomery from Massachusetts.
- LB: Commits: 2, one more targeted.
Four star Nigel Bowden was a huge get for the young LB corps, and Oren Burk is another well-regarded commit. That could be it, but the staff would definitely be happy to use on of the last couple spots on Florida prospect Skai Moore.
- CB: Commits: 4, probably it.
We have four, relatively similar recruits, all 3* or 3/4*, not particularly big, but very physical, disruptive CBs including the top in-state CB Darrius Sims; Ryan White, a standout from the Louisville powerhouse Trinity HS; former Gator commit Tre Bell; and another product of our work in the Atlanta area, Taureen Ferguson.
- S: Commits: 2, would like another.
The recent commitment of long-time target Jalen Banks has shorn up the spot for now, but the coaches would definitely like one more, particularly one of our biggest targets throughout the cycle, 5* Leon McQuay, III from Armwood HS (former teammate of current Dores Josh Grady and Kevin McCoy. Vandy still has a legit chance, but the competition for this kid is very tough.
Our success doesn't end with this year's class as we already have two big commits for next year's class, QB KJ Carta-Samuels (brother of Austyn) and local DT Jashon Robertson from MBA (who is currently 276 lbs as a HS junior). On top of that, we have one of the nation's first commits for the 2015 class, Ensworth DB Donovan Sheffield, so we are already counting the days until February 11, 2015 when we can officially get his signature on paper.
Basketball Lands a Big
After our failure to land a single 4* guy last year to replace the six outgoing players (five of whom had been at least 4*), fans and staff were antsy to see us add some big talent for next year, especially if the player also happened to be big.
An already big need for bigs might be even worse now, with the uncertainty surrounding the continuing injuries to C Josh Henderson.
Thankfully, Coach Kevin Stallings got a big hit to start this cycle, 6'9 4* C Damien Jones, a Rivals Top 100 prospect. That leaves one more scholarship to be filled this year or next (though it's possible or even likely one or two more could open up before then) and, though the staff will be looking for the best possible player regardless of position, a big still is the central focus.
The staff has several targets still in play, including several highly rated front-court players, with the biggest target being instate 5* F Austin Nichols.
Baseball Class #1 Again
For the second straight season, Coach Tim Corbin has landed the nation's #1 recruiting class according to Baseball America. This is the first time in the 13-year history of the BA rankings that any school has been #1 back-to-back.
Unlike in football and basketball, we are talking about guys who are already on campus and could be playing for the Dores this spring. The rankings don't come out until now because the class can't be evaluated until you know which players will make it to campus, and which will sign in the MLB draft.
The Dores weren't unscathed by the draft, but still came out with BA's selection for the top freshman to make it to campus, RHP Walker Buehler, who is expected to pitch this season, as possible a mid-week starter or reliever (and could be a weekend starter if not for our deep returning staff).
The Dores additionally bring in slick fielding SS Dansby Swanson, who could immediately take draftee Anthony Gomez's place as the starting shortstop, possibly future corner-IF power bat Xavier Turner, and extremely high potential OF Rhett Wiseman.
Women's Basketball Soaring to New Heights
We don't pretend to know much about the women's game here, but we would be absolutely remiss not to mention that Coach Melanie Balcomb currently has the #5 class in the nation and #1 in the SEC, having just landed the #16 prospect in the nation according to ESPN, 5* PG Rebekah Dahlman.
Though the class is now full and could fall a few spots as other classes fill up, there is no doubt that Coach Balcomb has the Dore women headed well in the right direction.