College football is in the second year of having an early signing period, which will begin this year on December 19 and run through December 21. Last year, we learned that basically anyone who is (a) committed prior to the early signing period and (b) does not sign a Letter of Intent during the early signing period, is probably going elsewhere.
On the other hand, last year all but two of Vanderbilt’s commitments at that time did, in fact, sign early. Miles Jones didn’t sign, and ended up at Nebraska, while Rayshad Williams flipped to UCLA literally at his signing ceremony at Whitehaven in February.
So, here’s a list (courtesy of Rivals) of players who are committed to the program as of today, December 7:
- TE Joel DeCoursey (Zionsville, IN)
- TE Jeffrey Blake (Norcross, GA)
- DL Christian James (Memphis, TN)
- QB Jamil Muhammad (Madison, AL)
- Justin Ball (Washington, DC; currently listed as a TE, but rumored to be recruited as an OL)
- DB Justin Harris (Attalla, AL)
- RB JR Tran-Reno (Birmingham, AL)
- DL Daevion Davis (Madison, AL)
- WR Devin Boddie (Memphis, TN)
- WR Jayden Harrison (Nashville, TN)
- LB Anfernee Orji (Rockwall, TX)
- RB Delbert Mimms (Indianapolis, IN)
- DB Jaylen Mahoney (Rock Hill, SC)
- OL Julian Hernandez (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
- DB Gabe Jeudy (Charlotte, NC)
- LB Kendall Young (Bentonville, AR)
- K Jared Wheatley (Indian Trail, NC)
- OL Brayden Bapst (Washington, DC)
I’m mostly going off the positions that Rivals has listed, though I’m kind of projecting the players they have listed as athletes. Jamil Muhammad was definitely recruited as a quarterback, and JR Tran-Reno was recruited as a running back. Devin Boddie and Jayden Harrison could end up at either WR or DB, but since both play WR in high school, we’ll keep them there for now. On the other hand, no, Vanderbilt didn’t actually recruit three tight ends in this class, and Justin Ball will probably end up on one of the lines.
I’m not going to engage in any speculation over who might or might not flip between now and February. Assuming everyone ends up on campus — and, let’s say for argument’s sake, that Joejuan Williams, Jared Pinkney, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn all leave for the NFL — here is what Vanderbilt’s roster breakdown by position would look like entering 2019:
There are a handful of things to note in here. The offensive line looks pretty thin here (and at least two of the incoming freshmen will need to spend a significant amount of time in the weight room before they’re ready to contribute), but rising junior Braden Kopp, currently listed as a tight end, could move back there, as could current true freshman Tyler Steen, who’s on the defensive line for now. With that said, the offensive line is one place where I’d look for Vanderbilt to add another commit or two before February, but there’s probably nobody who would provide immediate help; that’s definitely a place where you’re looking a year or three down the road. The fact that Vanderbilt would have 11 wide receivers on scholarship — which is quite a lot for a team that doesn’t often run sets with more than three receivers on the field at a time — could increase the odds of Devin Boddie and/or Jayden Harrison moving to the defensive side of the ball.
On the other hand, assuming that Jared Pinkney is off to the NFL, here are the tight ends that Vanderbilt will have on scholarship next season: Gavin Schoenwald, Ben Bresnahan, Braden Kopp, Joel DeCoursey, and Jeffrey Blake. Kopp could move back to the offensive line, and the other four have combined for (I believe) zero snaps. It seems like Vanderbilt has loaded up on tight ends in the last couple of classes, but it turns out there was a reason for that. Though I will point out that Vanderbilt has gotten some mileage out of walk-on Cody Markel here, so maybe they won’t take any additional tight ends. (And, of course, Justin Ball could always stay at tight end for the time being.)
Aside from the obvious areas, Derek Mason does tend to prefer to have a lot of depth in the defensive back seven, so taking another linebacker or defensive back isn’t out of the question. Going into the season with three scholarship quarterbacks is, of course, dangerous, but any addition is much more likely to be a graduate transfer than another developmental guy.