With Kyle Shurmur graduating, Vanderbilt will have an open competition for the starting quarterback job in the spring (and possibly extending into fall camp) — and that competition got even more crowded on Monday. Ball State’s Riley Neal will transfer to Vanderbilt (as confirmed to Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports) and will be immediately eligible under the graduate transfer rule.
In three-plus years as the starter for the Cardinals, Neal completed 60 percent of his passes and threw for 7393 yards, with 46 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Injuries cut short both his 2017 and 2018 seasons, but in 2018, when healthy, he completed 194 of 335 passes for 1917 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
How this translates to the SEC is a bit of an open question: in six career starts against Power 5 competition, his completion percentage went down to 50 percent with just a shade over five yards per attempt, with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Those aren’t exactly glowing numbers, but then that was with a MAC offensive line, a MAC running game, and MAC receivers to throw to.
The big question now is how this affects the quarterback competition in 2019. RIght now, I would say Neal is a slight favorite to win the starting job, if only because of his experience. We know Neal can be a competent college quarterback and while we think that might be true of either Deuce Wallace or Allan Walters, we can’t be completely sure. One thing I will say now is that if either Wallace or Walters wins the starting job, they’ll have earned it by beating out an experienced college quarterback, which wasn’t true as of two days ago.
(Before you ask, I don’t mean to completely discount Mo Hasan or Jamil Muhammad, but Hasan was a walk-on for a reason and Muhammad will be a true freshman. They’re a clear four and five in this competition.)
Tweet of the Day
Absolutely LOVE this-Porter Gaud HC John Pearson knew it was finals week, he could skip town for 1 day..He jumped a plane to Nashville to see Aaron Nesmith play. Vandy beats Arizona State. Nesmith scores 13. Pearson literally cries. I had to catch up w/him on phone from Tennessee pic.twitter.com/tPtz6gbRuL— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) December 18, 2018
(You knew that was coming, didn’t you? Don’t lie.)
The big news from yesterday was the big win over Arizona State by an 81-65 score. Arizona State probably won’t be ranked for too much longer, but it does mark Vanderbilt’s first win over a Top 25 team since beating Florida in the 2017 SEC Tournament. Vanderbilt had lost eight in a row to ranked competition.
In addition to Neal, the football team also picked up a commitment from Brentwood Academy’s Nate Clifton on Monday.
Collegiate Baseball named Drake Fellows and Stephen Scott to their preseason All-American team.
And in case you missed it, a great article from ESPN’s Jordan Schultz on Bryce Drew’s crisis management skills.
Off the West End
Georgia QB Justin Fields, the #1 overall recruit in the 2018 class, is reportedly transferring after a year in Athens. (The funniest part of this: Georgia fans on Twitter referring to Dan Wolken as a Tennessee homer.)
For you soccer fans (i.e. not you, VandyTigerPhD), there was the Champions League knockout stage draw, announced yesterday.