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We Got Recruits: Breaking Down Derek Mason's Big June at Vanderbilt

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The Commodores added nine recruits in June, and another could anchor down soon. But what did Vandy really add to its roster for the class of 2017?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It turns out all that worrying was for nothing. Derek Mason got on his horse at Vanderbilt's summer camps and loaded up his team's class of 2017 with a flurry of action. In a 10 day span, nine players dropped anchor and proved this team's grand plan could be successful. These recruits poured in from across the country -- Florida, Georgia, Texas, Indiana, Alabama, and beyond -- and will now set the stage for the remainder of a small, but important, recruiting haul in Nashville.

The 'Dores now have more pledges in a single class through the end of June than it has since James Franklin was working his recruiting voodoo back in 2013.

Year # of Recruits by June
2017 9
2016 6
2015 6
2014 4
2013 11
2012 6
2011 1
2010 9
2009 3
2008 5

Of course, early recruiting rankings don't mean much. Players have the flexibility to take official visits and decommit up until National Signing Day in February. Those who do make it to campus have no guarantee of living up to their prospect status. Players like Jordan Cunningham, Carlos Burse, and Mitchell Parsons never made an impact at Dudley Field. Others, like Jordan Matthews, Walker May, and Kenny Ladler, surpassed expectations.

Caveats aside, here's what Vanderbilt is getting from the nine high school athletes who dropped anchor as the team went into overdrive with recruiting camps this month.

Offense
Player Height Weight HS Position College Position 247 Composite Position of Need?
McLane Mannix 5'10 173 RB/WR/KR Dexter McCluster 0.86 Yes.
Jacob Free 6'4 198 QB QB 0.8529 Always.
Grant Miller 6'5 275 OT OG 0.7817 Not as much.
Bryce Bailey 6'5 290 OT OT/OG 0.8462 Not as much.

McLane Mannix is fast as hell...and you can't teach that. The question is whether or not he can maintain that speed while adding enough bulk to keep from getting torn up against SEC defenders. He could make an immediate splash on special teams while Mason and his staff try to find a way to work his playmaking skills into the team's offense.

Jacob Free brings a strong and accurate arm along with a big frame to the Vandy QB depth chart. He's solid as a straight line runner and can escape pressure, but he looks like a pocket passer all the way for the 'Dores. He'll have plenty of time to develop into an SEC QB while players like Wade Freebeck and Kyle Shurmur jockey for snaps in 2017.

Bryce Bailey is the stronger of Mason's two offensive line recruits, but don't sleep on Grant Miller. Bailey has the size, arm length, and lateral movement to stay at tackle as an NCAA athlete, but he'll have to refine his blocking game. Miller has played against tougher competition at Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, and as such hasn't looked as impressive. A move inside may be necessary for Miller, but he's the type of player who could be a consistent contributor for a team constantly refreshing its OL ranks.

Defense
Player Height Weight HS Position College Position 247 Composite Position of Need?
Colin Anderson 6'2 210 OLB ILB 0.8403 Not as much.
Dayo Odeyingbo 6'5 245 DE DE/OLB 0.851 Yes.
Jalen Pinkney 6'3 225 DE OLB 0.8529 Yes.
Tae Daley 5'11 173 FS FS/CB 0.8488 Yes.
Adam Sparks 6'0 175 CB CB 0.8455 Not as much.

Adam Sparks -- the cornerback, not the Tennessean's Vanderbilt beat writer -- is a player who should rise up the recruiting rankings this fall thanks to his near-elite athleticism. Sparks is fast, can cut on a dime, and has the vertical leap to swat jump balls out of the air. At 6'0, he has the height Mason is looking for in the secondary; as long as he picks up the playbook he should be able to make an impact in 2018 and beyond.

Vanderbilt is stocked with safeties for this season and next, but after 2017 the Commodores have only Zaire Jones, Austin Quillen, and Andrew Rector. Adding Tae Daley is a start, but the 177-pound playmaker will need to bulk up to complement his solid ball skills with SEC-level tackling. The good news is that he already hits high school players like a runaway truck.

Then, you get to the bloodlines of the class. Dayo Odeyingbo is Dare Odeyingbo's little brother, but he looks a lot more like Stephen Weatherly given his size (6'5, 245 lbs) and ability to pressure the quarterback from the edge. He's joined by Jalen Pinkney (brother of Jared). The younger Pinkney needs to add some weight, but he's strong and athletic enough to play as either a defensive end or outside linebacker.

Colin Anderson rounds out the defensive group. He's an intelligent outside linebacker whose sideline-to-sideline pursuit skills make him an easy piece to fit at ILB in Mason's 3-4 scheme.

Finally, Georgia running back/cornerback/athlete Kyric McGowan left Vanderbilt's Friday Night Lights camp closer than ever to joining the team's next wave. He has solid acceleration and separation speed that helps put him in open space, and while he doesn't have elite top end speed, he can still make people miss with that extra gear. Mason will have to beat out overtures from Duke and Mississippi State to land his commitment.