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Mason Closes Fast At Vandy (And He Needed To)

derek-mason-portrait-vandyOne week ago today, Vanderbilt had just 10 commitments.  James Franklin’s departure had basically sliced the Commodore class in half.

Ah, but today, new coach Derek Mason has 19 signed letters of intent in hand and commitments for two more.  On the job for just two weeks, Vandy’s new coach deserves credit for quickly re-stocking his team’s cupboard.

However.

It’s clear that Mason’s race against the clock led to a drop in overall talent level (at least according to the recruiting service).

Vanderbilt has signed LOI from two 4-star players, 11 3-star players, and six 2-stars.  It’s entirely possible that Mason will get the absolute most out of the kids he’s signed.  But on paper, it looks as though he made the decision to add bodies… any bodies he could find.

 


14 comments
vandyfan1
vandyfan1

Good article my fear was that Mason would just add bodies. Getting Lealao was huge (before anyone states that Vandy pulled a "Franklin" on Stanford) he did not pass his entrance test to Stanford. Yes this is an awful and pathetic class, but to not use those scholarships and hold them to next year would not be logical. If they would have only signed 10 kids then thats 13 lost scholarships. After UT bent every rule in to book to get a class of 36, the rules may change to prevent that from happening again. The SEC may actually start enforcing the 25 man cap. Get who you can into your system and coach them up instead of not having anyone on you practice squad. Also excuse some of the comments from us because Signing day is always a depressing day for Vandy fans as we usually end up with the worst class in the SEC.

GoldAnchor
GoldAnchor

@John at MrSEC,

Good writeup, and anyone carefully reading your comments will recognize that you have at least some praise for the job Coach Mason has done. I wouldn't go so far as to say he has amazed me, but pleasantly surprised would be a good way to put it, considering where we stood three days ago. That is not a job anyone could have done.


Where I take exception is to your claim that Mason took "any bodies he could find." This word choice implies that he was not careful and selective in his approach, and I believe stating such is careless, if not irresponsible. Mason has made it clear that he is most concerned with finding players to fit his system. Whether that is Nifae Lealao (who happens to be the highest rated signee in Vanderbilt history), or Davis Winkie (a "2-star" recruit, but one of the highest rated long snappers in the nation), Mason has a plan. Keep in mind, some guys have a better eye for overlooked talent than others. Stanford, Boise State, and Vanderbilt have enjoyed quite a bit of success over the past few years utilizing overlooked players.


So, yes, while I would be more excited if we had inked a few consensus 5-star players, I have looked into the players we have signed, and I have no reason to believe any of them cannot be stars, ESPECIALLY in the schemes that will be installed at Vanderbilt.

Leon Despair
Leon Despair

First of all, thank you for the Herculean effort in covering all the signing day activities. But with regard to Vanderbilt, MrSEC, with all due respect, you did start the day off with that post about Coach Mason waiting forlornly by the fax machine, wondering if it would ever ring, maybe even checking every five minutes to see whether it was plugged in. That one seemed to go out of its way to be unnecessary. And now, when the commits came in on schedule and the quiet day you predicted yielded 22 of them, including a handful of four-star players, you write as though all Mason did was "find bodies." However, Vandy's class of 2014 not only ranks higher than James Franklin's first class at VU, it went from being ranked about 94th last week to somewhere around 46-50th by noon today. Moreover, since it was widely predicted in the media that VU would add 19-23 recruits, the final total was no surprise. So what if Mason and his staff recruited "as many as" eight 2-star players? For the last few years, he was part of a staff that took mostly 2-and-3 star players to four straight BCS bowls. Yes, he had a tough challenge over the past two weeks. You are right about that. But to portray him as forced to choose between "just adding bodies" and waiting until next year suggests that he didn't land any quality commits, and he most certainly did.


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

New rule --  Anyone who annoys this writer by posting the same "you hate my coach," "you hate my team" type nonsense in the comment boxes story after story will have his/her posts deleted.


Life's too short, and I don't intend to import anyone else's repetitive snark.


Got a legitimate issue?  Disagree with a point?  Fine, make an adult statement.  

But smart aleck crap from anonymous commenters?  Nope, those days are over.

Thanks for reading the site,

John

Geemom
Geemom

Have to brag - more good news. This is the highest Vandy recruiting class ranked academically in 5 years and Lealeo is the highest rated guy ever to commit to Vandy. Thrilled thrilled thrilled. In 2 weeks! Wow.

Geemom
Geemom

I am thrilled with what Mason has done in 2 weeks - ranking-wise better than Franklins first year and in a third of the time. Also it looks like he was going for a certain type of build or body type, same as Stanford. I think all Vandy fans are extremely happy. I think Mason and other coaches will do a tremendous job. He has won me over.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@vandyfan1  

Actually, Tennessee had holes last year and they allowed them to "back-count" a number of players and that's exactly what I was suggesting as a possibility for Mason next year.  He did a good job.  So good I think he might have made better use of those scholarships next year with a full year to recruit.  Vanderbilt shouldn't have so many depth concerns that they couldn't have spared five or six scholarships... to "back-count" with next season.

Tennessee also forward-counted some players.  Their class next year will be considerably smaller.  Butch Jones attempted to strike while the iron was hot -- this year.  Not last year.  Not next year.  Now.  And my suggestion was that Mason might have found the iron a bit hotter in his second year, too.

No right or wrong answer.  Just a valid question of how those numbers were managed.

Thanks for reading,

John

Oh, and the SEC's 25-man cap has always been soft.  When everyone freaked out over it when it was first launched we wrote that it was a soft cap and would mean, basically, bupkes.  And that's pretty much been the case.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Leon Despair  

I didn't write that he checked his fax machine to see if it was plugged in.  I wrote that Vandy was off to a slow start as was expected.  Now, Mason added a great deal of players and I saluted that fact.  But as is the case EVERY SINGLE YEAR when a new coach signs lesser stars, I also asked, "Would he have been better off saving those scholarships for next year?"  That is a legitimate question.  A question we have asked before.  There is no grade.  There is no definitive answer given (how could there be).  But there is a legitimate question there.

If you choose to take that as being anti-Vanderbilt or unfair or mean so be it.  The fact that he did so well in two weeks makes me think he could have done better with a YEAR and two weeks... so I don't know that I'd have signed eight 2-star players.  Yep, they may all turn into Heisman-contenders.  But the odds of 2-stars panning out are longer than the odds of 3-stars or 4-stars panning out.  So again, seeing his ability to sell on the fly, I would have held a few scholarships back IF I felt my team had the depth to survive in Year One (and he might not have felt that way).

Personally, I really don't care about Vanderbilt or any of these darned schools.  So here's hoping all your signees become All-Americans.  And if not, them's the breaks.


Best o' luck.


John

vandyfan1
vandyfan1

@John at MrSEC @vandyfan1  After UTK used every rule to get this massive class, is it possible that the rules are changed to prevent the type of back and forward counting and then there is a hard cap of 25 soon (which I would love to have)? Just asking for your opinion on this. Unless the rules are changed, I don't believe for one minute that UT won't pull the same thing next year and the next.  Not intending to upset or contradict you with that comment but it's pretty clear to me that Jones and most coaches does not care about honoring the soft cap, and would try to have a class of 40+ every year. 


Also Vandy's history is to honor rules and agreements (which is why they have never been on the NCAA's infraction committees radar). So for them to sign a class of 35 plus would not have happened IMO. To me it's just better to add to your practice squad with players that you wanted than to depend on walk-ons or risk injuring a starter. 2 star kids are not as worthless as most believe, 

GoldAnchor
GoldAnchor

@John at MrSEC @GoldAnchor


And just to be clear, your writing is YOUR writing, and you are entitled to whatever opinion you choose. I read this site almost daily (and post very rarely), and your writing does not appear biased to me in any way. You do a good job covering the entire SEC fairly evenly, as is evidenced by the presence of a standalone article on our (last-ranked in the SEC) recruiting class. You pointed out some positives and negatives, and that's all we can ask for. I appreciate your reply. Please don't allow the personal attacks from a few lessen your opinion of our fanbase as a whole. I promise we are not that bad!!

Leon Despair
Leon Despair

@John at MrSEC @Leon Despair  


It's true that you didn't write the sentence about looking to see if the fax machine was plugged in. It was just the image that came to mind on reading your original post this morning. If you don't think that's a fair characterization of what you did write, I apologize. But you also didn't write that "Vandy was off to a slow start as was expected." What you wrote was that "National Signing Day figures to be a quiet one" for Vandy. In reality, no one expected Vandy to have either a quiet day or a slow start. Everyone who reports on Vandy expected somewhere between 19-23 faxes to come in on schedule. Which is what happened. 

I've been reading this site since you started it. I have never believed (or said, or written) that you are anti-Vanderbilt. Although I have often disagreed with your opinions, I have always enjoyed reading them and I have appreciated the sheer amount of coverage VU gets on your site. Today is the first time I have thought what you wrote was unfair to Vandy, and I explained why as best I could, hoping you'd see my point. 

People do take cheap shots under cover of anonymity, and no one can blame you for being irritated when they do. But I didn't make the crack about Greg Schiavo. 

Finally, I don't believe for a minute that you "really don't care" about "any of these darned schools." You work way too hard for that to be true. 

By the way, I went to Birmingham-Southern.









John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@FCDore @John at MrSEC 

Uh, yeah.  One comment.  It just happens to be the exact same type of comment you leave under every Vanderbilt story posted on this site, but what the heck.

I'm not the guy who writes anonymously under someone else's work.  You are.  That gives me and the other guys around here the power to blast anything you post right off of our site.

And you did try to annoy me.  That's been your goal under every Vanderbilt story.  That's what people like you do.  You think it's fun to be anonymous jerk and to spin everything into some sort of insult aimed at your team, your coach, your players, etc.

The fact that I didn't "blow up" at you sooner, shows just how darn patient a man I am.  'Cause someone -- maybe your papa or your mama -- should have told you to grow up (and sign your name) a long, long time ago.


Again, life is too short.  Repeated snark with no value?  I'll nuke it before I let you spin every Vandy story I post.


Keeps me happy and sane.


John



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@GoldAnchor @John at MrSEC 

Kind words.  Everyone has bad days.  In my line of work, anonymous strangers can climb aboard for the ride and try to make things worse.  On those bad days, when I deal with the same repeat offenders with the same nonsensical comments it's sometimes just too much.


Personally, I read stuff every day and never leave a comment anywhere, much less a smart-alecky one.  What's the point?


People disagree with my take all the time.  If they have good points or if they just make their "bad" points in a civil way, I either thank 'em for reading or say nothing at all.  But the nitwit stuff is like someone banging two pots together day after day and post after post.  THAT I will respond to, if only to vaporize it.


All the best to you and the Commodores,

John

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