The SEC East school landed three commitments from Georgia in one day — North Atlanta LB Stephen Weatherly, Stephenson LB Darreon Herring, and East Paulding DE LaDarius Banks on Thursday. Vanderbilt has six 2012 commitments, crossing over the Tennessee state line into Georgia for 5 of 6, including North Cobb DE Tre Griffin and Tucker LB Jacob Sealand.
Sealand recalls a recent conversation with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin:
“Coach Franklin said we need to get this thing going, we need a ‘plunger’ and I didn’t know what he meant by ‘plunger’ … then I realized a little later,” Sealand said. “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.”
The best catch of Thursday’s haul might have been Weatherly, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder who is projected to play outside linebacker. He picked Vanderbilt over Georgia Tech, while also considering Illinois and N.C. State. He also had numerous other SEC and ACC schools that wanted to evaluate him this fall.
Weatherly’s commitment was connected with Herring’s decision: “We saw that another kid committed to Vanderbilt earlier in the day on Thursday. I thought ‘Well, this must be a sign.’ I really liked Vanderbilt and the timing felt right after hearing about that. So my head coach and I called up there around noon to let them know I was coming.”
“Coach Franklin was really excited. He said ‘I knew a day like this was coming eventually.’ He congratulated me on my decision.”
“Vanderbilt was my top choice, and I didn’t want to risk losing the scholarship offer, so I went ahead and committed. They play in the nation’s best conference with the SEC, and also offer a world-class education.”
Vanderbilt’s recruiting strategy under Franklin resembles 2010, when the Commodores aggressively recruited Georgia — they identified targets early in the process, offered them before peer schools, and were ready and willing to accept early commitments. It gave Vanderbilt a headstart on players who would be later recruited by SEC rivals. The Commodores lost a few, including Peachtree Ridge defensive back Bradley Robey (flipped to Ohio State), but finished with eight signees from Georgia.
What if bigger schools come calling? Will these 2012 commits stick with Vanderbilt?
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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