Vanderbilt hot on the recruiting trail

May, 20, 2011
5/20/11
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There must be something in that Nashville water these days.

After having just one 2012 verbal commitment more than halfway through the month of April, Vanderbilt and new coach James Franklin have been on a roll. The Commodores have increased their commitment number to six, after getting pledges from five prospects in the last week.

Of those five, three -- outside linebacker Darreon Herring, inside linebacker Jacob Sealand and defensive end Stephen Weatherly -- are members of the ESPNU 150 Watch list.

Sealand (Tucker,Ga.) was the first to get the ball rolling for Vanderbit. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder committed to the Commodores' staff Sunday and had nearly 20 scholarship offers. He was also considering North Carolina, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and South Carolina. As a junior, Sealand recorded 85 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and six sacks.

Here's what Sealand told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his commitment: "It was the best overall choice anyone could make, especially for myself," Sealand said. "I've always put education first. I feel like with Vandy, I don't have to settle for a sub-par education just to join a winning program."

"I feel like I can go to Vanderbilt, help turn the program around, and be a part of a winning team that will compete for SEC championships -- along with getting a world-class education."

And here's what ESPN's Billy Tucker said about Sealand: "This is huge land for the Commodores as we feel Sealand is an upper-tier inside linebacker in this class," he said. "Not the most fluid, but he possesses great downhill power and shows dominate strength and physicality taking on blocks and stacking the run at the point of attack. A strong wrap up tackler and tough, aggressive linebacker."

The next commitment came from Chattanooga, Tenn., Baylor School offensive lineman Barrett Gouger. The 6-foot-4, 284-pound lineman was also considering Memphis and Wake Forrest.

This is what Gouger told The Chattanooga Times Free Press: "I went up to Vanderbilt over the weekend for a baseball game and really felt that family atmosphere," he said. "I've been thinking about it for a while, and the more I thought the more I felt Vanderbilt was the place for me."

Defensive end Ladarius Banks, Herring and Weatherly all committed to Vanderbilt Thursday. Banks, who stands 6-2 and weighs 265 pounds also had offers from Cincinnati, Southern Mississippi and Troy.

Herring had close to 20 offers and had schools like Clemson, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Florida and North Carolina high on his list. Despite getting interest in a handful of schools, Herring maintained that Vanderbilt was always his top school.

Here's what he told ESPN's Jamie Newberg about his pledge to the Commodores: "Vandy is the place where I want to be," he said. "They have great academics and the program is on the rise. It's just a great opportunity for me.

"I also really liked the coaching staff. They have a great attitude and I really feel comfortable with those guys. It feels like home."

Weatherly rounded out the Thursday trifecta. The North Atlanta standout also received a lot of attention from other schools, including Georgia Tech, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Ole Miss and Wake Forest.

This is what Weatherly told the AJC about his commitment: “Coach Franklin said we need to get this thing going, we need a ‘plunger,'" he said. "I didn’t know what he meant by ‘plunger’ and then I realized a little later. He said he needed one big-name player in the Atlanta area to commit and people would follow. I didn’t know I’d be that guy. But as soon as I committed last week, I guess other people saw it because we got more commitments from our area. I’ve been calling and talking with Darreon and other recruits. Hopefully, we can get some more committed very soon.”

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