James Franklin was a very successful coach on the field during his time at Vanderbilt. That included a very strong presence when it came to recruiting on the road. While he was on the recruiting trail, however, it seems that he may have gone just a little too far. Of the current 2015 roster, only 12 players hail from the great state of Tennessee. While the Volunteer State may not be thought of as an elite location when it comes to producing Division I talent, here is the list of the schools who benefited the most by the lack of an in-state presence by the Commodores just in the past three recruiting classes (2013-2015)
Ole Miss- 7
Mississippi State- 4
FSU- 1 (Jalen Ramsey)
Oregon- 1 (Ugo Amadi)
Wake Forest- 3
That is a total of 25 recruits who signed with out of state schools, which is the equivalent of an entire recruiting class. Players such as Rico McGraw, Jalen Ramsey, Ugo Amadi, and Corn Elder could have been part of the #AnchorDown movement had it not been for the lack of focus put on in-state recruiting.
For Coach Mason and his staff, this upcoming season will be crucial when it comes to recruiting. Coming off such a tough season, it is important for Mason to build relationships with HS coaches in the area and establish a solid foundation for the future of Vanderbilt football. Having been at Stanford before coming to Nashville, he knows both how to recruit at a university with high academic standards as well as what it takes to beat out schools who may have more to offer them in terms of facilities and exposure. By putting a fence around the state and winning some recruiting battles against that gaudy orange, Mason is giving Vanderbilt something we got a taste of with Franklin. That means success on the field and off of it, ALONG with an in-state presence. Below is a state-by-state breakdown of the initial 2015 roster :
New Jersey- 2
North Carolina- 2
Attendance has sadly dropped significantly since the departure of James Franklin just two seasons ago. For every student-athlete who would be coming from the state of Tennessee, that would be an additional 2-10 fans in the seats per student-athlete. Athletics have become much more important to Vanderbilt over the last several years, and if the school were able to fund upgrades on facilities, as well as the continuous growth on the field, the possibilities are endless.
As we have seen over time, and as sports show each and every one of us every day, nothing is impossible and that includes Vanderbilt playing football in Atlanta the first week of December in the near future. First, they'll have to recruit better in the great state of Tennessee.
For Mason's first class, he was able to sign five players from his own backyard. Those players make up nearly half of the homegrown talent on the roster. For the first time in several years, Vanderbilt's signing class had more players from Tennessee then any other state. If Mason is going to continue to build relationships in the state, this number will need to increase as time goes on.