What a Difference Three Weeks Makes

If the way that Derek Mason was able to piece together the Vanderbilt Commodores 2014 recruiting class is anything to go by then ‘Dores fans are going to be in for a wild ride.

When Mason accepted the Vanderbilt job just three short weeks ago he inherited a recruiting class which had been torn apart by defections (and poaching). Mason though knew that in order for Vanderbilt to continue to build on the success the school has seen over the last few years he could not afford a failed recruiting class. Thus with just three solid commitments remaining on the books he set out on a mission to sell Vanderbilt to any and all that he and his staff graded worthy of the black and gold.

This quote from Mason shows exactly how he saw the class and also shows the kind of mental toughness and organizational skill which it takes to accomplish what he and his staff did over the past 21 days or so.

"I think what this staff did rivals what a two-minute drill or pressure situation is all about. When you look at this group of recruits you'll find depth, length, speed, athleticism, and more than anything else, character. We need men here at Vanderbilt; men who embody what we're about. And that's working to win championships."

The later into the off season that you change coaches the more difficult it is to salvage a class. Mason must have known when he signed on for the job that he was going to struggle to keep the ranking in the 20's which the previous staff had put together as signing day loomed. It says everything about the hire though that Mason was able to pull in such a respectable class, one which includes arguably the biggest profile recruit in the history of the school.

The class is almost perfectly balanced. Of the 22 commits there are 11 defensive players, 10 offensive players, and one long snap specialist (as an aside, did anyone know you could be classed as a long snap specialist coming out of high school?). The jewel though, and the player who has Vandy fans salivating at what Mason may be able to do with a full recruiting period, is defensive lineman Nifae Lealao.

As the Polynesian name suggests Lealao is not a guy who Mason found while studying the high schools in Nashville. Instead he was able to pry the consensus four star West Coaster away from the likes of USC, Stanford, and Cal. This potential opening of a pipeline on the Pacific could be huge for the ‘Dores, especially if they can combine it with keeping the best players in Tennessee, and picking up other recruits from SEC country.

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