Vanderbilt football got a needed boost on Thursday when head coach James Franklin confirmed that senior defensive tackle Jared Morse had enrolled in summer classes and reinstated to the team. Morse had been dismissed from the team and left the school this spring due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Morse will immediately provide a high level starter for a team that will replace All-SEC tackle Rob Lohr this fall. The senior started six games in 2012 and had nine tackles for loss as a key member of the "Wild Dogs" of the Vandy defensive line. The 300 pound run stopper will be a key presence on a unit that will now provide a softer learning curve for talented young players like Vince Taylor and Barron Dixon.
According to the Tennessean, Morse's presence should move talented sophomore Caleb Azubike back to defensive end full time. Azubike burst onto the scene as a true freshman on the edge, and his speed and strength could make him one of the SEC's premier pass rushers in the near future. A starting defensive line of Walker May, Morse, Taylor/Dixon, and Azubike could be a destructive force for the Commodores.
Morse's talent wasn't appreciated solely in Nashville. EA Sports rated him as one of the team's top five overall players in NCAA Football '14, where he was given an 85 ranking overall. That trailed only cornerback Andre Hal amongst Vanderbilt defenders.
The news should help Vanderbilt's stock heading into the 2013 season. Having a steady veteran in the middle should help the 'Dores limit opposing offenses and limit rushing yards at the line of scrimmage. Morse is the kind of player who can force opponents to throw the ball more, and that's a big advantage for a team with a defensive secondary like Vandy's.