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Friday, July 1, 2011
Franklin, Vanderbilt picking up momentum

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

He hasn't won a game (or even coached a game) in the SEC, but it's hard not to notice the impact first-year Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has made on the recruiting trail.

Franklin and his staff have done an excellent job of selling the Vanderbilt program to this point. Hence the Commodores showing up at No. 24 in ESPN's latest recruiting rankings for the 2012 class.

They may be climbing in those rankings later today when three top prospects in the state of Tennessee announce their college choices.

That trio is led by running back Brian Kimbrow of Memphis. He's rated by ESPN as the No. 20 athlete nationally and one of five four-star prospects in the state of Tennessee for the 2012 class. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Kimbrow is electrifying in the open field and just the kind of playmaker with game-changing speed that Franklin is looking to add on offense.

Here's the other thing about Kimbrow: Look at some of the schools Vanderbilt would beat if he does indeed choose the Commodores. Tennessee wants him and so does Auburn, Notre Dame, Stanford, Arkansas and Mississippi State among others.

It's the kind of battle the Commodores haven't often won, especially in-state, over the years, but Franklin and his staff have really worked the state of Tennessee hard and are making considerable inroads.

The two other in-state prospects scheduled to announce Friday at 2 p.m. ET at the DI Sports Training Complex in Franklin, Tenn., are defensive end Caleb Azubike and receiver Cory Batey, both from Nashville. The 6-4, 232-pound Azubike is a three-star prospect and has narrowed his choices to Boston College, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. The 6-1, 184-pound Batey is also considering Kentucky.

The Commodores currently have eight commitments for the 2012 class, and seven of those are from the state of Georgia.

If Kimbrow pulls the trigger, he would be the fourth four-star prospect already committed. According to ESPN's rankings, the Commodores didn't sign any four-star prospects in either of the 2011 or 2010 classes.