Derek Mason And Vanderbilt Football Adjust Their Sails In 2018

Vanderbilt Football
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason on the field. Nashville, TN. November 4, 2017 Photo By Kate Pearson-Halyburton

Derek Mason And Vanderbilt Football Adjust Their Sails In 2018

Derek Mason Vanderbilt football adjust their sails in 2018.  There is a quote that says “You can not direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” There are actually several variations of this quote credited to several different people.  Head coach Derek Mason cannot direct the wind (wind=SEC) but he can adjust his sails.

Vanderbilt football has had its share of struggles since Mason took over the program four years ago.  There are plenty of ‘keyboard cowboys’ that will give you their opinion and put down the program. That kind of negativity is not in my playbook of life.  You cannot change the past.  You can, however, make an impact on the future.  Derek Mason and the rest of his staff have worked tirelessly on making the 2018 recruiting class their best class to date.  The 2018 Vandy recruiting class is ranked in the top 50; ESPN has it at 37th, 247Sports has them 41st, and Rivals ranked the Dores at 46th.  While the top 50 rankings are nice, it might be worth a reminder that the academic requirements to get into Vandy are still the highest in the SEC.  Those higher standards make it nearly impossible to land a top-five recruiting class.

The December early signing proved to be a positive for Mason, his staff, and his team.  They had 17 signees in December.  The five they added Wednesday was just the icing on the cake.

The New Kids On West End

Name – Position – Height/Weight – Hometown – High School
Amir Abdur-Rahman – WR – 6-4/210 – Atlanta, Ga. – Mays HS
BJ Anderson – DB – 6-1/175 – Andalusia, Ala. – Andalusia HS
Lorenza Surgers – DL – 6-6/235 – Cary, N.C. – Panther Creek HS
Parker Thome – P 6-3/210 – Hortonville, Wisc. – Columbia/Hortonville HS
Louis Vecchio – DL – 6-4/260 – Orange, Calif. – Penn/Villa Park HS

December Signees
CJ Bolar – WR – 6-1/185 – Purvis, Miss. – Purvis HS
Ben Bresnahan – TE – 6-4/230 – Cumming, Ga. – West Forsyth HS
Dan Dawkins Jr. – OL – 6-3/300 – Staten Island, N.Y. – The Peddie School
Tre’ Douglas – DB – 6-2/190 – McDonough, Ga. – Eagles Landing Christian Academy
Brendon Harris – DB – 6-1/195 – Chattanooga, Tenn. – Baylor School
Dashaun Jerkins – DB 6-0/190 Woodbridge, Va. – Woodbridge HS
Cam Johnson – WR – 6-0/180 – Brentwood, Tenn. – Brentwood Academy
Ja’Veon Marlow – RB – 5-11/190 – Winter Haven, Fla. – Winter Haven Senior HS
Elijah McAllister – LB – 6-6/230 – Rumson, N.J. – Rumson Fair Haven HS
Alston Orji – LB – 6-2/225 – Rockwall, Texas – Rockwall HS
Rutger Reitmaier – DL – 6-3/295 Nashville, Tenn. – Lipscomb Academy
Javan Rice – K – 6-2/180 – Miami, Fla. – Belen Jesuit Prep
Gavin Schoenwald – TE – 6-4/225 – Brentwood, Tenn. – Brentwood Academy
Wyatt Smock – OL – 6-4/290 – Louisville, Ky. – St. Xavier HS
Tyler Steen – OL – 6-5/300 – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. – St. Thomas Aquinas
Allan Walters – QB – 6-2/200 – Chatham, N.J. – The Peddie School
Max Worship – DB – 6-1/195 – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. – Cardinal Gibbons HS

Filling The Gaps

Anyone who has been reading my Vandy articles the last two seasons knows we try to keep it positive.  Yet I must acknowledge that last season the line play on both sides of the ball was such an issue that even Stevie Wonder was able to see it.  However, 2018 is a BRAND NEW YEAR, with a brand new recruiting class and brand new levels of potential.  The Commodores have added considerable size to the lines on both sides of the ball.  We could discuss stars and rankings of each of these players.  But, anyone who pays attention to college football knows that stars and rankings can be meaningless.  Let us wait and see what these players do once they put on the black and gold.  That is when I need the player to be impressive.  When he makes a game-changing play and propels Vandy to a win in a critical game.

The Offseason

The offseason in college football is a roller coaster.  There are staff changes for almost every school.  Head coaches have to evaluate their talent on the sidelines in their coaches not just the players on the field.  Mason has officially added some new talent to his sidelines with four new additions. First up is Aaron Moorehead who will take over at wide receivers for Cortez Hankton who left for Georgia.  Moorehead has spent the last three seasons at Texas A&M.  Next up, Jason Tarver is the new defensive coordinator.  He was co-coordinator with Mason at Stanford for one season before leaving for the NFL.  Mason has held both DC and HC titles the last two seasons.  However, neither job is easy to do in the SEC let alone BOTH at the same time.

Shawn Mennenga will take over for the departed Jeff Genyke as special teams coordinator and tight end coach while Andy Ludwig will work with the running backs.  Mennenga comes to Nashville from The Cleveland Browns where he spent the last seven seasons.  Lastly, Terrence Brown who played under Mason at Stanford will be in charge of the cornerbacks.  Brown spent the last three season at Washington State, where the Huskies lead the Pac-12 in defense.

Spring Ball and The SEC Network Scuttlebutt

The SEC Network posted on their website this week the Spring Game Schedule with a banner that reads “Every 2018 SEC spring football game to be televised” and a glaring asterisk *13 of the 14 SEC football teams elected to play a spring game this year.  The SEC Network is NOT showing the Vanderbilt Spring Game because it does not fit their description as a “traditional” spring game.  Mason is not splitting his team up to do a “traditional” spring game scrimmage. No black team vs gold team.  He is calling it a spring showcase like last year.  Yes, it is open to the public.  Yes, there will be a scrimmage.  Many fans had issues with this last year. I tried to calm the outrage last year HERE.  Everything I wrote last year rings true this year.  TRUST THE PROCESS.  Spring ball kicks off February 26th.  It should be an exciting spring. Too bad the SEC Network will miss it.

Way TOO Early Predictions

Everyone is speculating on every team and their upcoming seasons.  If history has taught us nothing else it has taught us that football is a fickle mistress.  Nothing is as it seems.  No one is a sure thing.  Everyone can lose at any given time.  Let us quit over analyzing and start enjoying the present.  I am the first to admit that I live and die by football season.  My entire year revolves around those precious few months of college football.  I choose to be excited about the Vanderbilt football team that Mason is taking his time to build.  Success does not come easy in the SEC.  I STILL trust Mason and his process, because I have never been a college football coach before.  He knows more about the game than I do.  Now I have to trust him and believe he has adjusted his sails and this team is on the right course for success beyond my wildest predictions.


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