Vanderbilt had already set an unofficial school record by garnering several four-star commitments before the summer solstice. Now, head coach James Franklin just set the bar a bit higher.
The Commodores picked up their first commitment from a high school junior in modern history Tuesday, making defensive tackle Jashon Robertson the cornerstone member of their class of 2014. Robertson, a 6'3", 276 pound ball of thickness from Nashville, committed to Franklin and his staff not long after receiving a scholarship offer yesterday.
The young player just finished his sophomore year of high school at Montgomery Bell, but he's already being touted as a rising star amongst Tennessee's football ranks. He's a standout on both sides of the line for the Big Red, but is expected to play defense in college. As you can see by his highlight reel, he's a strong player with solid instincts who...HOLY CRAP DID HE JUST SUPLEX THAT GUY???
Vanderbilt was the first school to offer Robertson a scholarship, but his strong performances in camps over the past year had him on the radar of many SEC teams, including Alabama and Tennessee. Let's reiterate that last point, because it's something that we may have never thought possible in Nashville. Vanderbilt made a rising star football player his first scholarship offer as a sophomore/junior, and he jumped on it because he was convinced that Vandy was the right place for him. He didn't wait to hear anyone else out; he immediately took the opportunity that James Franklin gave him.
That's a remarkable feat that is often reserved for the powerhouses of the NCAA. Vanderbilt now has one more member in their class of 2014 than Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, or South Carolina. They join a group of SEC schools with junior commits that includes Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri. That's a far cry from this team's past recruiting hauls of players that earned two-star labels on signing day thanks mainly to their arrival at a SEC program.
Vanderbilt has cleared their biggest hurdle by getting Robertson's commitment, but they'll still have to work to keep him. If he continues to impress on both sides of the ball, more teams will come to court him. Franklin has been clear that he holds his commitments sacred, but he has also had to deal with at least one high profile decommitment in Nashville. If his crew can keep Robertson on the line for two more years - through thick and thin - then it will be his biggest statement yet as a NCAA head coach.