UPDATE: For years, Vanderbilt commitments cited a chance to play in the SEC or an elite education as reasons to sign up to play football as a Commodore.
Not Andrew Jelks.
Sure, those things are important but Jelks had other opportunities to play in the SEC and when asked why he publicly committed to Vandy on Saturday, he cited the Commodores on-field performance as the primary reason. That may be a first.
“Coach (James) Franklin, I think he's got something big going on down there,” the three-star offensive lineman from Paris (Tn.) Henry County said. “He's been close these past few games with Florida, Georgia (and) Arkansas. Just one or two more plays and they're going to get the 'W'. We've got one of the best recruiting classes that Vandy has ever had coming in 2012. I want to be a part of Vandy's turnaround.”
Jelks is Vanderbilt's 18th commitment. The 'Dores have one ESPN150 prospect in tailback Brian Kimbrow from Memphis (Tn.) East and five four-star prospects.
On the field, Vandy is 4-5 and 1-5 in the SEC and lost to its past three conference opponents (Georgia, Arkansas and Florida) by just a combined 13 points.
“I know they're not coming in with wins right now but I didn't expect that his first year,” Jelks said. “I just wanted to see him come and be competitive which they've been. They've been in every game so far. I really like that.”
The 6-foot-7, 270-pound Jelks selected Vandy over Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi State. Jelks made the announcement to just a few reporters at his house on Saturday afternoon. He said he's not one for dramatic press conferences.
“I'm not the type of guy that wants to have a big distraction and all of that,” he said. “I just wanted to tell a couple reporters, tell them to get it out and people can look at it that way. I'm not the type of guy to have all the eyes on me.”
Franklin's eyes were certainly on Jelks, who was considered one of the top prospects in Tennessee. Jelks said he actually has been committed to Vandy for about a week. He did so by calling Franklin who was understandably overjoyed by the decision.
“He was just fired up,” Jelks said. “He was screaming on the phone. I didn't even know what he was saying.”
Maybe Franklin was hard to understand, but Jelks' commitment says wonders about Vandy's future.
High three-star offensive tackle Andrew Jelks (Paris, Tenn./Henry County) committed to sign with Vanderbilt on Saturday, according to multiple sources.
The Commodores landed Jelks, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound senior, over Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee. He also made an official visit to Stanford on September 30th.
Kentucky, Louisville, Missouri, Ole Miss, Duke, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Arkansas State, Florida International and Western Kentucky were among his other scholarship offers.
Vanderbilt now has 19 verbals in its nationally-ranked Class of 2012.