Texas lost their starting center for 2016 when Jake Raulerson announced his intention to leave the program and attend graduate school outside of Austin. Vanderbilt's coaches and players took note - and suddenly the former four-star recruit had a few more followers on Twitter.
In the past day, four Vanderbilt coaches, including head coach Derek Mason, have begun following the former Longhorn. Commodore receiver Caleb Scott is also keeping tabs on the free agent grad student, who will be eligible to play for whichever team he chooses this fall. The 'Dores aren't alone when it comes to his transfer suitors. Staff members from programs like Florida, Arkansas, Michigan, UCLA, and Eastern Michigan have all recently started following him.
Raulerson would have a clear path to a starting spot on the Vandy offensive line in 2016, though he'd have to beat out rising redshirt freshman Cole Hardin to get there. The Commodores will have to replace senior standout Spencer Pulleyat center and could use a veteran presence to help keep quarterbacks Kyle Shurmur and Johnny McCrary upright in 2016. The 6'4", 295-pound athlete made 11 appearances for the Longhorns in 2015 and has started five games in his two eligible seasons at Texas. Adding him would give the 'Dores an offensive line that looks something like this:
LT: Andrew Jelks
LG: Bruno Reagan
C: Jake Raulerson
RG: Barrett Gouger
RT: Will Holden
That's speculative and could change significantly between this December hypothetical situation and next year's season opener, but that's a strong looking group on paper. Vanderbilt needs all the help they can get to stabilize an offense that ranked 116th in the FBS in total offense. They'll have to give him the hard sell to lure him away from a list of national powerhouses that are competing for his services, but if Raulerson is weighing graduate programs on an equal level with football success, then Vandy may have an edge that several other programs can't match.