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Anchor Drop, May 12, 2018: Graduation Day

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That’s right: our players actually graduate.

Good morning.

Vanderbilt University held its commencement ceremonies on Friday. We’ll get to the sports in a minute, but let’s talk about this for a minute. Take it away, inside linebackers coach and former Vanderbilt football player Chris Marve:

The NCAA has come a long way since the bad old days of the 1980s, when college football programs were turning out “student”-athletes who were actually illiterate, but go check out just about any major college football program’s recruiting material and note how much they promote their former players who are in the NFL — and how little they talk about the ones who aren’t.

That three-star linebacker who redshirted his first year on campus, played on special teams for a couple of years and was a backup on the depth chart for two years after that? What’s he doing now? Do you know? Do you even care? (Did he even stay in the program for four years, or did you “process” him?)

Lord knows, there are plenty of things that Vanderbilt University does wrong with respect to its athletics program, but this is one thing that it gets absolutely right. Vanderbilt takes the “student” part of student-athlete seriously. I’m not sure if they still do it, but I remember picking up the media guide when I was at Vanderbilt a decade or so ago and seeing a section of what our former basketball players are doing now, and it’s an impressive list. It’s the kind of thing that should be more of a selling point to recruits than “look at all these guys we recruited who were destined from the NFL from the word go and are, in fact, in the NFL,” but it’s not.

And here is where we celebrate.

First of all, we’re going to miss all of the graduating seniors from the athletics program. (But especially you, Jeff Roberson.) And second, you’re damn right that we’re going to brag about our graduation rate. Because this is what really matters.

Here is the full list of graduating seniors, courtesy of vucommodores.com.

All right, on to the sporting events.

Astra Sharma went through commencement ceremonies at 11 and then went and left a trail of asses on the tennis court at 2 (she paired with Fernanda Contreras to win her doubles match 6-0, then went and won a singles match 6-0, 6-1 after that) as Vanderbilt beat Alabama State to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Commodores will face Clemson at noon today. (Speaking of graduation, shout to regular commenter Your Uncle Mike, who is now finished writing checks to Clemson since his daughter graduated from there. Congrats to our cousin!) Live stream, like yesterday, is available from vucommodores.com.

We took some time off from roasting the University of Tennessee on Twitter to admire Stephen Scott, who roasted the Vols at Lindsey Nelson Field last night, connecting on two homers in Vanderbilt’s 7-6 win. This blog post is a negativity-free zone so we will not mention the seventh inning. Vanderbilt improves to 26-23 and 12-13 in the SEC, and can breathe a bit easier; the Commodores and Vols will go at it again at 5:00 PM CT on the SEC Network+.

At the SEC Track and Field Championships, Courtney Clayton qualified for the finals in the 800 meters.

Men’s tennis opens the NCAA Tournament today in Champaign, Illinois, where they’ll play Drake today at noon. If they win, they’ll play the winner of Illinois and Marquette in the second round. Live stream is available.

Off the West End

The Toronto Raptors fired their coach after posting the best record in the East, and are now looking for a coach. Might we suggest they promote one of the assistant coaches on their G-League team?

And yes, you’re seeing that right: 905 Raptors assistant coach Donnie Tyndall still has the obnoxious orange T in the background of his Twitter avatar.

Alabama is blocking a grad transfer offensive lineman from going to Tennessee. Get your popcorn ready.

It wasn’t a good day for former Vanderbilt pitchers in the majors. Sonny Gray got booed at Yankee Stadium after giving up five runs in five innings, and this was somehow a better day than Carson Fulmer, who only needed 1.2 innings to give up five runs. Ouch.

Webb Simpson shot a 63 at the Players on Friday, tying a course record at TPC Sawgrass and leading by five strokes after two rounds.

Nevada landed a McDonald’s All-American on Friday. Nevada, a Mountain West school. This FBI investigation is really scrambling recruiting.