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At defensive end, Vanderbilt will rely on the Odeyingbos and an All-Ivy transfer

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The Commodores are a little thin at the position but there’s talent here.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Mason likes length on the defensive side of the ball, and nowhere is that more apparent than at defensive end.

The Commodores feature five defensive ends on the roster and four of them are 6’5” or taller. And the fifth led the team in tackles for loss in 2017. This unit looked a bit better before rising sophomore Jalen Pinkney — the younger brother of starting tight end Jared Pinkney — left the program in the spring; as it stands, the top-level talent looks good, but depth is a big question.

Mason addressed that in part by adding a graduate transfer, but the lone freshman in the group is likely to redshirt. There are a few players at the outside linebacker spot who could ultimately end up here, but that’s probably a couple of years away from happening. I like the talent here, but can the Commodores get by with basically four players at the position?

The Presumptive Starters

Dare Odeyingbo, senior: A fixture on the defensive line for the last two years, the 6’2”, 282-pound Odeyingbo started 11 games in 2017 and ended the season with a team-leading 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. Odeyingbo is a bit undersized but figures to start somewhere on the defensive line; there’s an outside chance that he moves inside if Vanderbilt can’t find a solution at the tackle spot.

Dayo Odeyingbo, sophomore: It’s a bit of a mystery how the younger Odeyingbo was just a three-star recruit, because players with his combination of size (6’6”/265, up from playing at 250 as a freshman) and explosiveness don’t grow on trees. Odeyingbo was one of six true freshmen to play for Vanderbilt last year and ended up notching 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Pencil both Odeyingbo brothers into the starting lineup.

The Backups

Louis Vecchio, redshirt senior: Yay for Ivy League rules! Vecchio was an All-Ivy performer at Penn in 2016 and 2017, notching 8.5 tackles for loss in 2017. An injury-plagued sophomore season earned him a fifth year, but thanks to Ivy League rules (the Ivy effectively doesn’t allow fifth-year players) he had to go elsewhere. That leads him to Vanderbilt, where he’ll probably slot in as a reserve defensive lineman behind the Odeyingbo brothers. He does have SEC size at 6’5” and 258 pounds.

Stone Edwards, redshirt freshman: Edwards added 20 pounds since enrolling at Vanderbilt and is now listed at 6’5” and 260 pounds, which should be good enough to earn a reserve spot at defensive end in 2018.

The Prospect

Lorenza Surgers, freshman: A late addition to the 2018 recruiting class, Surgers has length at 6’5”, but at 240 pounds he needs to add weight. Surgers figures to redshirt in 2018, though the new redshirt rules mean he might see some game action.