Vanderbilt: Navigating unchartered waters

HOOVER, Ala. - Fresh off a winning season and a victory in the Music City Bowl--the school's first bowl since a 1955 triumph over Auburn in the Gator Bowl--Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson has reason to be optimistic. Add in returning 17 of 22 starters (plus a returning punter), and Johnson has reason to be downright giddy.

"The key thing is to maintain our momentum. I think the sky's the limit for Vanderbilt, to tell you the truth," Johnson said. Last year's Commodore team finished 3rd in the SEC East at 4-4, and early reports are filled with optimism with all of the returning players. Recruiting commitments--although non-binding and verbal at this point--have Vanderbilt perhaps at a higher level than ever before.

Johnson believes the school can compete with anybody in the country in recruiting. "We're already there (recruiting nationally)," Johnson explained. Vanderbilt has a built-in advantage in being recognized as a top 20 academic school, and winning records, bowl game victories, and a synergy in recruiting will do nothing but continue to help steer the Commodores toward the unchartered waters deep in the Southeastern Conference race.

"If we continue to do better, I think people will start to know that we're just not an automatic win anymore," Johnson explained. With an early September 12 date in Baton Rouge against LSU, the Southeastern Conference will have an opportunity to see early whether last year was a fluke or if the best is yet to come for Vanderbilt.

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