Commodores land a burner in Jared Fagan

Westlake High School's Jared Fagan, who recently became Vanderbilt's 12th football commitment for 2004, isn't the most imposing physical specimen you'll ever view. At 5-10, 170, the Waldorf, Md. all-purpose athlete is one of the more diminutive senior prep stars currently catching the attention of big-time colleges. But college recruiters realize Fagan brings something to the table that simply can't be coached-- speed. The raw, blinding variety.

Westlake High School's Jared Fagan, who recently became Vanderbilt's 12th football commitment for 2004, isn't the most imposing physical specimen you'll ever view. At 5-10, 170, the Waldorf, Md. all-purpose athlete is one of the more diminutive senior prep stars currently catching the attention of big-time colleges.

But college recruiters realize Fagan brings something to the table that simply can't be coached-- speed. The raw, blinding variety.

Fagan, who's been timed at a legitimate 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, will instantly become one of the fastest players ever to sign with the Commodores, provided he follows through on his verbal commitment on National Signing Day. For the moment, he must be content as the fastest high school athlete in the state of Maryland. His time in the 100-meter dash in the state meet last spring was tops among all classifications.

The much-decorated athlete's decision to look South to Vanderbilt came as a surprise to many of his friends. But Fagan said recently he became sold on the school on a December official visit, and is not dissuaded by Vanderbilt's reputation as a lower-tier school in the Southeastern Conference.

"I'm just looking to come in next fall and help turn that program around," said Fagan recently from his home in Waldorf, Md. "I think Vanderbilt is going to have a lot of wins coming. Look at a school like South Carolina. People come into programs all the time and help them make big turnarounds."

With speed to burn, Fagan seems to be the kind of special athlete that, utilized properly, could become a true difference-maker for the Commodores of the SEC. The two-way standout was the cornerstone of a Westlake team that advanced all the way to the region championship game in Class 3A.

This past season Waldorf-Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli played Fagan primarily at running back and cornerback, and occasionally utilized him as a safety. Fagan finished the year with around 1,400 yards rushing for 18 touchdowns, and 19 pass receptions for over 200 yards. His best game came against Westminster, when he rushed 18 times for 254 yards and 3 TD's. In another game, he racked up 175 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 5 carries.

Fagan suffered an ankle sprain early in the season that kept him from starting on defense for the first five games of the season (he started on offense only), but the senior still came up with four interceptions in 2003.

"When I first went down to Vanderbilt (for summer football camp), looking at a school like Vanderbilt, you wouldn't think that they were so high on football," Fagan said. "When I went to camp, I saw they did have a positive attitude toward winning. That carried over to my visit too."

Vanderbilt assistant J. D. Hall was the first to contact Fagan, but defensive backs coach Jamie Bryant took over his recruitment after seeing Fagan's speed in person at summer camp. In addition to Vanderbilt, Fagan would end up taking official visits to Virginia Tech and Connecticut, but felt the most comfortable at Vanderbilt. He gave Bryant a solid commitment during an in-home visit the week before Christmas.

"I really liked the players I met on my visit," he said. "That was what sold me. Other visits I had taken, it seemed like the players were more worried about, he could come in and potentially be fighting for my position, instead of, he can come in and really contribute to this team.

"When I finally started thinking about both sides, academic and athletic, and where I thought I had the best chance to play earliest, the only school I could really narrow it down to was Vanderbilt."

Currently running indoor track, Fagan looks forward to another big year in outdoor track once the weather warms up a bit. The nimble Fagan has run a blazing 6.36 in the 55-meter dash, and a 10.42 in the 100 (a conference record).

While other schools recruited him as an all-purpose athlete, Fagan said Vanderbilt recruited him as a cornerback. Playing time was a big factor for Fagan, and if needed, he could provide immediate help to the Commodore secondary next fall.


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