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2021 Early Signing Class Rundown

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Vanderbilt’s recruiting class is ranked 29th nationally on Rivals. Wait, what?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With the dust settled after the first day of the early signing period, Vanderbilt’s recruiting class currently ranks 29th nationally on Rivals and 47th on 247 Sports. This, in spite of the fact that Vanderbilt fired head coach Derek Mason two weeks ago and didn’t officially announce Clark Lea as his replacement until Monday. Uh, how does that happen?

Well, it seems, perhaps, that Derek Mason’s recruiting pitch of selling the university more than himself and the football program left Vanderbilt with a lot of recruits who were committed to Vanderbilt rather than a specific coach. The Commodores had only lost one recruit in the two weeks leading up to signing day, while the school to the east is seeing rats flee a sinking ship in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the fact that Jeremy Pruitt is apparently going to be retained. (And yet, Tennessee’s class still ranks 14th in Rivals, because God hates us.)

Anyway... well, here’s a list of the 21 players who signed with Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Thoughts to follow.

2021 Vanderbilt Football Recruiting Class

Player Pos Height Weight Hometown Rivals Rivals Position 247 247 Position 247 Overall
Player Pos Height Weight Hometown Rivals Rivals Position 247 247 Position 247 Overall
Marcus Bradley DL 6'3" 270 Gaithersburg, MD 4-star #15 DT 4-star #15 DT 188
Quincy Skinner Jr. WR 6'1" 185 Pompano Beach, FL 4-star #56 WR 3-star #79 WR 518
Oyenmwen Uzebu OL 6'6" 305 Atlanta, GA 3-star #40 OT 3-star #45 OT 574
John Howse IV DB 6'1" 185 Nashville, TN 3-star #42 S 3-star #66 CB 792
Devin Lee DL 6'3" 275 McDonough, GA 3-star NR 3-star #50 DT 820
Terion Sugick DL 6'2" 305 Landover, MD 3-star #31 DT 3-star #54 DT 859
Delfin Xavier Castillo OL 6'5" 310 Kissimmee, FL 3-star NR 3-star #50 OG 1019
Jacques Hunter DL 6'4" 225 Valdosta, GA 3-star NR 3-star #70 SDE 1144
James Ziglor III DB 6'0" 190 Marietta, GA 3-star NR 3-star #175 WR 1239
Tyson Russell DB 5'11" 175 Plantation, FL 3-star NR 3-star #114 CB 1346
Tyler Bence DL 6'3" 280 Huntsville, AL 3-star NR 3-star #72 DT 1353
Marlen Sewell DB 6'1" 180 Birmingham, AL 3-star #51 CB 3-star #126 CB 1415
Jake Ketschek OL 6'4" 310 Absecon, NJ 3-star NR 3-star #120 OT 1424
Alan Wright DB 5'11" 180 Fayetteville, GA 3-star NR 3-star #123 S 1436
Gage Pitchford OL 6'6" 295 Newnan, GA 3-star NR 3-star #123 OT 1443
Gunnar Hansen OL 6'5" 310 Boca Raton, FL 3-star NR 3-star #73 OG 1520
Ezra McAllister WR 5'11" 175 Marshall, MI 2-star NR 3-star #134 ATH 1708
Re'Mahn Davis RB 5'9" 215 San Francisco, CA 2-star NR 3-star #119 RB 1869
Miles Capers LB 6'5" 225 Sumter, SC 2-star NR 3-star #99 WDE 1918
Errington Truesdell LB 6'1" 215 Duluth, GA 3-star NR 3-star #101 ILB 2147
Gamarion Carter WR 6'2" 185 Toccoa, GA 3-star NR 3-star #284 WR 2236
  • Beef is back on the menu. Of the 21 signees, 10 — count ‘em — were in the trenches, five on the offensive line and five on the defensive line. I’m seriously impressed with this defensive line class — Marcus Bradley is a 4-star recruit at a position where Vanderbilt doesn’t often get 4-star recruits, and Terion Sugick prefers to go by “Tank” which is all you need to know about him.
  • I’d also add that the defensive line class looks like even Derek Mason had decided it was time to give up on the 3-4. For one thing, signing five defensive linemen doesn’t seem like something you do for a three-man front, but 6’4”, 225-pound Jacques Hunter looks like a classic 4-3 defensive end. Then again, guys like that would often be seen at the outside linebacker spot in Derek Mason’s defense.
  • Offensive linemen are more of a long-term investment than anything else, so here, there’s strength in numbers with four high school offensive linemen, all of whom have good frames. And yes, I really do hope Clark Lea hangs on to Peter Rossomando.
  • But, there’s also a transfer here: West Virginia’s Junior Uzebu, who was the Mountaineers’ starting left tackle to open the season and should add immediate help at a place that badly needs immediate help.
  • The other transfer in the class is Re’Mahn Davis, who ran for 936 yards as a freshman at Temple in 2019 and, I can only assume, is Temple’s repayment to us for the Hettening. We have officially come full circle.
  • The skill positions are a bit lighter, though Mason brought in four defensive backs because of course he did, with Marlen Sewell committing as well on the day after Mason was fired. I’m really not sure what compels a recruit to commit to a school that doesn’t have a coach, but hey, welcome aboard, Marlen. The defensive back group also includes Alan “Taco” Wright, the younger brother of Mike Wright, and Brentwood product John Howse IV, the lone in-state product who signed on Wednesday.
  • Oh, yeah, but there is a four-star wide receiver. Those are always good to have.
  • There’s no quarterback in this class, which is... interesting. Most coaches like to take a quarterback in every class, but I can see why we didn’t get one: for one thing, Vanderbilt had four quarterbacks on the roster this season and none of them were seniors, and while one or two of them might transfer, it’s not exactly a pressing need. And second, with Ken Seals being a freshman and appearing to be the starter for the foreseeable future, signing up to play quarterback here is signing up to sit behind Seals for three years.
  • Three committed players didn’t sign on Wednesday. The most notable is Warren County product C.J. Taylor, the Tennessee 6A Mr. Football, who was recruited as a defensive back. Also not signing: Michael Mincey, a linebacker out of Georgia, and Hoover (AL) RB Dylan Betts-Pauley.
  • In terms of geography, this class was heavy on the state of Georgia, with eight players coming from the Peach State (that includes transfer Junior Uzebu.) There are also four recruits from Florida, including two more from St. Thomas Aquinas (that pipeline continues to pump), and two apiece from Alabama and Maryland. Notable in its absence: Texas.

I’ll have more thoughts and profiles on individual recruits over the next few weeks, but right now this class looks like a great building block for Clark Lea.