Derek Mason got his biggest recruit for 2015 - so far - when Murfreesboro's Josh Smith chose Vanderbilt on Tuesday evening. Smith was one of several top recruits to announce his college intentions at The Opening, a Nike-sponsored event for high school football players that attracts some of the top talent in the country.
Smith is currently the highest rated member of Vanderbilt's 2015 recruiting class, according to ESPN. He joins quarterback Kyle Shurmur and defensive back Donovan Sheffield as the team's four-star recruits for next season. He turned down scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Penn State, and Tennessee to choose Mason's squad.
The 6'3", 216 pound linebacker will join his brother Emmanuel, a four-star safety who committed to the Commodores as part of the program's Class of 2013. The Smith brothers are hard hitters who have displayed high football IQs at Oakland High School. They'll pair up once more when Josh makes his first appearance in black and gold next fall.
Smith currently plays at outside linebacker, but will likely slide inside in Vanderbilt's new 3-4 scheme. He's got the frame to add more weight and seems likely to play at around 235-240 pounds in the SEC. His ability to read offenses and react quickly will make him a valuable component for the Vandy D against both run and pass situations. He's similar in size to another famous Mason linebacker - Stanford's Shayne Skov - but Smith has yet to display the kind of coverage abilities that the Cardinal LB flashed as a high schooler. If Josh Smith can show off the kind of sideline-to-sideline playmaking that Skov did in the NCAA, Vanderbilt could be looking at Chris Marve 2.0 (or, should his improvement continue, Darreon Herring 2.0).
Vanderbilt currently has the smallest recruiting class in the SEC with just seven players. However, they currently have the highest concentration of four-star athletes in school history, so if Mason can keep this pace up, he'll have a chance to eclipse James Franklin's best classes in Nashville.