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Is Derek Mason Missing Out? Comparing Vanderbilt Football's Summer Recruiting Since 2008

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Derek Mason's cupboard is bare when it comes to 2017 recruiting. Should the Vanderbilt Commodores be worried?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's the middle of June, and Vanderbilt doesn't have a single verbal commitment in his recruiting class of 2017. Should head coach Derek Mason be concerned?

The Commodore cupboard for '17 and beyond is bare as Mason preps his fourth class of high school standouts. Nashville hasn't been a hot summer destination for top recruits, but history shows valuable players can he added in May and June. James Franklin had the most success on that front, but Mason hasn't been a failure in his own right. However, as that recruit tracker remains stuck behind programs like Harvard, Idaho, Villanova, Gardner-Webb, and Indiana State, worries about this team's future grow.

The counterbalance to the concern is simple. It's not how you start. It's how you finish. With a handful of major camps coming up, more recruits will be in contact with the Vanderbilt coaching staff than ever before. July and August will provide this program with several opportunities to bend the ears of some of the nation's top players.

But hauling in early recruits can play a major role in reeling in players as National Signing Day approaches. Commits like Brian Kimbrow and Josh Grady did as much work as assistant coaches when it came to touting Vanderbilt's praises and talking to other high school standouts back in 2012 and 2011.

So where does Mason's empty class of '17 stack up against the program's recent recruiting efforts? Here's who the Commodores have been able to bring to campus before the dog days of summer could drain the sweat out of the south since 2008.

Recruits Committed Before 6/15
Year Player Position 247 Composite Rank Contributor? Starter? All-SEC?
2008 Jay Fullam DB 0.8155 No. No. No.
Bobby Johnson Justin Cabbagestalk OL 0.7882 No. No. No.
Eric Samuels ATH 0.8324 Yes. No. No.
2009 Thomas Ryan DE 0.8463 No. No. No.
Bobby Johnson Grant Ramsay OL 0.8451 No. No. No.
Chase White OL 0.7935 Yes. Yes. No.
2010 James Lewis OL 0.8328 No. No. No.
Bobby Johnson
2011 Jacob Sealand LB 0.8739 Yes. Yes. No.
James Franklin Barrett Gouger OL 0.8586 Yes. Yes. No.
Darreon Herring LB 0.858 Yes. Yes. No.
Stephen Weatherly LB 0.8506 Yes. Yes. Yes.
Ladarius Banks DL 0.8089 Yes. Yes. No.
2012 Johnny McCrary QB 0.8839 Yes. Yes. No.
James Franklin Jonathan Wynn DE 0.8609 Yes. Yes. No.
Taurean Ferguson DB 0.8497 Yes. Yes. No.
Nathan Marcus TE 0.8464 Yes. No. No.
Latevius Rayford WR 0.8418 Yes. Yes. No.
Gerald Perry WR 0.8262 No. No. No.
Carlos Burse WR 0.8799 No. No. No.
2013 Dallas Rivers RB 0.8672 Yes. No. No.
James Franklin Emmanuel Smith DB 0.8922 Yes. No. No.
Bryce Lewis DB 0.8535 No. No. No.
2014 Donovan Sheffield* DB 0.8982 Yes. Yes. No.
Derek Mason Josh Crawford RB 0.8407 Yes. No. No.
Kyle Shurmur QB 0.8974 Yes. Yes. No.
2015 Deuce Wallace QB 0.864 n/a n/a n/a
Derek Mason Donaven Tennyson WR 0.8403 n/a n/a n/a
Devin Cochran OL 0.859 n/a n/a n/a
2016
Derek Mason
Averages: 0.8501821429 68.00% 48.00% 4.00%

Mason still has work to do to match his own standard. He's responsible for a 2014 class that brought in the two highest-rated summer recruits in program history -- though Donovan Sheffield was a holdover from the Franklin days. The argument against his Class of 2017 will grow louder the longer he waits; Vandy standouts like Nigel Bowden, Darrius Sims and Caleb Azubike pledged allegiance to the 'Dores in the June before their respective senior seasons. That's no indicator of future success, but it certainly wouldn't look good in comparison.That list includes two starting quarterbacks (and a possible third in Deuce Wallace), a Minnesota Viking (Stephen Weatherly), and a 2011 class that set the 'Dores up at linebacker for the next four seasons. It also included its fair share of washouts, including one offensive lineman best known for getting stabbed by a former teammate. On average, the team's summer recruits rate out as mid-three star prospects with a slightly less than 50/50 shot of developing into a starter for Vanderbilt.

So yes, there's some reason to be concerned about next year's recruiting class. Mason has secured commitments from some strong prospects the last two summers, but doesn't have anyone locked in for Signing Day 2017 just yet. Still, it's early, and the summer/fall will allow this team plenty of chances to correct this drought. It's not time to worry just yet, but that will change if Vanderbilt can't lock down any new players by August.