Vandy gets in the mix with Gaines

Houshun Gaines, who at one time thought he had committed to another SEC East school, is now being heavily pursed by Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive end/outside linebacker out of Nash Central High School in Rocky Mount, N.C., tells that he received the offer from the Commodore staff in October which has sparked his growing interest in the program.

"After the thing happened with Florida last month, I started hearing from Vanderbilt," Gaines said. "Coach Mason's a great guy who I think going to do big things with that program. Obviously they're not having the best year this year. It's the SEC though. There's so much talent in that league that you never know which will be the next team to rise up and play for the conference title. Last year it was Missouri. I think Vanderbilt's a good program and may very well be the next team to make that leap.

"Vanderbilt's definitely a school I'll be looking to visit before I make my decision. Most likely I'll visit sometime in January. The offer, they said, was at defensive end. It was my pass rush that got their attention. They love my motor and they way I get after the ball. The staff thinks, with my skill set, that they can use me in a lot of different ways on the line or as a stand-up defensive end. Those were some of the main things we talked about."

Gaines made national headlines last month when he mistakenly gave his commitment to an impostor pretending to be Florida's Director of Player Personal. Although he had a Florida offer and was ready to commit to the Gator program, he's since opened his recruiting back up.

"I've made a few visits so far," he said. "I've been to UNC, N.C. State, and I was in Blacksburg a few weeks ago. Obviously, I'm looking at the educational opportunities because it is college. On the football side, I want to play early. I'd really like to play outside linebacker in college so I'm looking at school's with versatile defenses I can fit in as kind of that hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. I like to move around a lot when I'm on the field. Other than that, I'm just looking to join a good, solid football program. I'm open but I like Virginia Tech a lot, I like UVA, Miami, and I'm really starting to like Vanderbilt a lot too. I'm going to go on a couple of visits and after that I should know what I'm going to do."

Despite a tough 0-11 season at Nash Central, Gaines had 78 tackles, 10 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss in his second year as a starter.

"I loved playing high school football," he said. "I'm ready, though, to try something different. I'm ready to move on to the next stage of my career and try to make it to the next level. I worked this year on becoming a complete player. I didn't get as many reps as I would have liked at outside linebacker, but I got stronger playing on the line. If I have to say will help me the most in college it would have to be my versatility."

Nash Central, established in 2002, has not had many D-1 prospects go through their doors, but Gaines drew their attention with 11.5 sacks as a junior in the Big East 3-A Athletic Conference.

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