Vanderbilt commitment talks relationships

Jake Bernstein from Chicago area's Crystal Lake South High School has been committed to the Vanderbilt football program since August. After Robbie Caldwell resigned as head coach, Bernstein was waiting to see the direction of the program with administrators David Williams and Nicholas Zeppos. He was excited to get a call Sunday night from the man they chose, James Franklin.

"Yesterday when he called he was traveling," said Jake Bernstein. "He was kind of busy, but he gave me the lowdown on how he was planning on running things. I watched the press conference and think they hired a great guy. He's coming in to win. I think he'll get things turned around quickly."

Bernstein was at Vanderbilt's Junior Day this past spring when the head coach was Bobby Johnson. Johnson abruptly resigned as head coach in July a month prior to Bernstein's verbal pledge. One of the reasons he stayed interested and later committed was his recruiting coach was Robbie Caldwell.

"You know I still think a lot of Coach Caldwell," said Bernstein. "I love him and I wish him well. Coach (Herb) Hand has a great relationship with me as well as my parents. I'll always feel that way about those guys, but I like Coach Franklin. I think he's sincere in what he says."

Bernstein, a 6-4, 275 offensive lineman projected to play guard at the next level was also recruited and offered by Arizona, Cincinnati, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. Although he was fond of the former coach and staff, Bernstein feels Vanderbilt has much more to offer.

"The main reason I wanted to go to Vanderbilt is the education," Bernstein said. "I want to better myself with a degree that I think will help me earn a lot of money. I like that Vanderbilt is a small school. Living in Chicago all my life, I hate snow. We get a good snowfall, and we're stuck indoors for awhile. There it doesn't snow as much. I'm looking forward to being in that kind of weather."

Bernstein helped lead the Crystal Lake Gators to an 11-1 record as a senior. They made it to the 3rd round in the Illinois state playoffs. He was named All-Area, All-Conference, and All-State. Now Bernstein is focusing on getting himself in the best shape of his life before heading down to Nashville.

"I want to be a freak when I get to Vandy," said Bernstein. "All I've been doing is homework-lift, homework-lift. I'm going to start speed and agility training and linemen drills after the holidays."

Next month also will take his official visit to Vanderbilt and get to meet with Coach Franklin in person.

"I'm going down January 21st," said Bernstein. "I don't think I'm going on any other visits. I'm committed to Vanderbilt. I want to go in there my freshman season and push to get a starting job. If I do or I don't my goal is to make the other guys better by pushing them for playing time. I plan on working my butt off, get both mentally and physically stronger, and improve in every aspect of my game. I won't say ‘I did my best' until I'm done playing football. I want to always continue to get better."

Jake Bernstein will graduate from Crystal Lake South on May 31st. He wore No. 53 for the Gators during his prep playing career. Top Stories