On Saturday, around the time Vanderbilt's baseball team was notching their first SEC win of the season, Vandy fans got another piece of good news; Nigel Bowden is going to be a Commodore.
Bowden, a four-star linebacker from Macon, Georgia, gave James Franklin his verbal commitment this weekend, according to Vandysports.com. The 6'1", 230 pound high school junior had garnered interest from across the south, including schools like Florida, Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. According to Rivals, he turned down offers from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Mississippi State to choose Nashville.
Bowden is a hyperactive athlete who moves well on a stocky frame. At a shade over six feet, he's a bit undersized for a middle linebacker, but he fits the mold that has been left behind in 2012 by one of the team's best defenders in recent years. Chris Marve, a four-year starter who captained this team from the middle spot, stood barely six feet tall but was also the key piece in a defense that kept the 'Dores competitive even in down years.
This commitment was the team's third of the 2013 recruiting cycle so far. Bowden will join four-star quarterback Johnathon McCrary and three-star defensive back Malik Greaves on Franklin's list of potential Commodores. This early boost gives the team more recruits than SEC counterparts Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and South Carolina. However, they'll have to work diligently to not only bring more high level players into the fold, but to keep the ones that they have. The 2012 defection of Josh Dawson, another four-star linebacker/defensive end from Georgia who switched from Vandy late in the recruiting process, should give this team plenty to think about when it comes to retaining players.
The addition of Bowden, if it holds, would be a big boost for a team that is heading into the future with some questions looming about their defense. Vanderbilt played well in 2011 despite having to fit inexperienced players around their senior leader Marve. This year, they'll get additional reinforcements in the form of five different true freshman linebackers to spell Archibald Barnes and Chase Garnham at the position. Two of those freshmen, Stephen Weatherly and Darreon Herring, earned four-star rankings from ESPN. Herring has already enrolled at Vanderbilt, and has been one of two true freshmen (Patton Robinette) to participate in spring practices with the team this year.