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"Vandy back to where they were before Franklin left"

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Lindy's had an interesting quote from one fellow SEC coach in their Southeastern Conference Preview.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Every year it's tradition, at least in this house, to grab the latest Lindy's Southeastern Preview Magazine.  Every year it appears to be the same stuff about Vanderbilt not being able to do this or not being able to do that.  This year, however, was a pleasant surprise.  Not only did Zach Cunningham get props on the Lindy's All American Team, but there were some very strong words about the Vanderbilt Commodores.

One coach went on to say that the program was exactly where it was before James Franklin left.  Now while Lindy's does keep their coaches anonymous, it has long been known that most coaches quote cross divisions in the SEC.  It's a belief that one coach in the SEC feels Vanderbilt is right back to where they were before Franklin left.  Is it accurate?  Is it right?  Is it true?  Well, that's a tough question to answer.  Yes, Mason got a lot of recruits from arguably James Franklin's most successful class, then he went and added quite a few of his own.  But we've also had a lot of kids leave the program as well due to this change, so it isn't exactly fair to say we're right back to where we were.  What is fair to say is the talent is there for Vanderbilt to have a very good season.

Overall, Lindy's had us ranked at 65th, which is respectable considering our horrible offensive numbers the last couple of years.  And they did make some very valid points, Nigel Bowden, who was on the All-Freshman SEC Team, and Zach Cunningham, who was on the 1st team All-SEC Squad last year, are both coming back to the middle for the Dores.  Behind them is Zach Smith, another highly touted four star linebacker, and Jordan Griffin, who was one of the fastest inside linebackers in his recruiting class (from Central Florida I might add).  That being said, one coach has come out and openly said he doesn't feel Vanderbilt's defense will be as good as last year's defense because we lost a lot.  Yes, a couple of big name players have left... that's why you go out and recruit kids who can step in and fill that void, and that is something we have done a remarkable job of defensively.

One argument that was presented that is fairly interesting is the idea of moving Andrew Jelks to Center and letting the two tackles from last season take the reigns (Justin Skule and Will Holden).  The idea I have floated out is sticking Sean Auwae right into the rotation and see how he does.  Do you want him to be the guy going against a Will Muschamp defense on week one?  I don't know if I would argue that... but what I would argue is, he was the #5 Center in the nation for a reason.  One of the other penciled in starters that I like is Bruno Reagan; he was a big steal for Vandy in Mason's first class and he seems to be finding his way just fine.  It's always nice to see a Tennessee kid get into Vandy and add to the cause.

While I highly recommend a lot of you pick up the new Lindy's Magazine whenever you can, there are some things I would like to point out before we get too excited.  We still need consistency, a lot of consistency will go a long way in fixing a lot of things.  We didn't exactly get that in the spring game when our running backs were very "meh" and our line had issues snapping the ball.  If Shurmur can be consistent and the line can be consistent, the sky is the limit for this football team.  Ralph Webb will be Vanderbilt's all time leading rusher before this is all said and done, which is an outstanding accomplishment, but we need a plan B should anything happen to him (we also don't really need him taking that 300+ touches thing too much due to his size).  This is where Khari Blasingame to me is the biggest help.  Dallas Rivers needs a kick in the ass, Josh Crawford could have easily been an Auburn kid but came here instead (and honestly could have used a redshirt), this allows Vandy to put that shirt on him IF Dallas Rivers beats him out.  Jaire George had some moments but by far Blasingame is the guy I'm excited for... which brings me to my next point.

Athletes.  Did you ever notice that's what Mason targets?  He wants athletes.  Guys who can play multiple positions with no issue.  Under the radar athletes, guys who can get after it and just want a shot.  That's the thing that blows me away about this roster: you look at guys like Blasingame and say "okay he can be a linebacker OR a safety OR a running back."  You look at some of our linemen and say "wow, these guys can play multiple roles, they aren't just tackles or just guards."  Well, I have a name for you to remember: Nick Brahms.  He plays right up the road from me at a school named Navarre.  He's a four star guard who can also play tackle and he is massive.  If Vanderbilt had a huge year he could be a guy we look at seeing very soon.  His teammate Michael Carter just dropped down to being a 3 star back, maybe it could be a one-two punch (though Carter is a big Tennessee kid), but only time will tell.

Overall I have said a lot here, I feel a lot of happiness for this team.  I have tickets to see Auburn vs Vanderbilt so I will be there to see the boys in black and gold take the win.  I suggest you guys go out and get a copy of the preview, it's unbiased and it's great coverage.  I'm happy for this program to be where we are on the map, and I'm extremely happy to say that this program is well represented in this magazine.  I'll be around a lot more to cover some stuff and give my input, so I look forward to answering some comments from you guys.  Take care and Anchor Down!