Recruiting: Signing class filling up fast

Vanderbilt received two football commitments over the weekend from defensive linemen, and the Commodores are awaiting a decision from the Mr. Football from the state of Alabama, quarterback Chris Nickson. Head coach Bobby Johnson hopes to deliver as many as 18 commitments on National Signing Day, Feb. 4.

Vanderbilt received two football commitments over the weekend from defensive linemen, and the Commodores are awaiting a decision from the Mr. Football from the state of Alabama, quarterback Chris Nickson. Head coach Bobby Johnson hopes to deliver as many as 18 commitments on National Signing Day, Feb. 4.

Defensive linemen David Carter (6-5, 245), and Gabriel Hall (6-3, 290), both members of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy's post-graduate team in 2003, became Vanderbilt's 15th and 16th commitments for 2004 after making official visits to campus this weekend.

Originally from Waynesboro, Pa., Carter (left) played quarterback, defensive end, tight end and special teams this past season at Fork Union. Coach John Shuman described Carter as a "man-child" in the mold of 2003 Vanderbilt DL signee Greg Jacobs, who also attended Fork Union. "These are not high school guys," said Shuman. "These are post-graduates who train around the clock."

As a defensive end, Carter had five sacks and untold pass deflections, according to Shuman. As a quarterback in a three-man rotation, he threw for seven touchdown passes. He runs a 4.7 40, and can do 20 reps of 225 pounds. On the track team Carter throws the shot-put, with a personal best of 58 feet, and throws discus in the 175 range.

"He's really explosive, fast and intense. West Virginia wanted him as a tight end," said Shuman. "I think Vanderbilt needs him as a D-end."

Hall (left) is described by Shuman as a nose-technique defensive tackle who clogs up the middle of the defense and takes double-teams well. "He had a really good year for us too."

The two linemen were among a small group of visitors making official visits to the Vanderbilt campus over the weekend. "As soon as Vanderbilt called and said they needed some D-linemen, we jumped on it," said Shuman.

Hall and Carter are the fifth and sixth defensive line commitments in a class expected to be heavy on defensive linemen, the Commodores' most critical need. Vanderbilt also pledged Theo Horrocks, a defensive lineman from Fayetteville, Tenn., last week.

Meanwhile the Commodores hope to land a commitment soon from Alabama state player of the year and Mr. Football, Chris Nickson. The 6-1, 190-pound dual-threat quarterback visited Southern Miss this weekend, and is expected to choose sometime this week from between Vanderbilt, Louisville, Southern Miss and Mississippi State.

Nickson (left), who led Pike County to a perfect 15-0 season and the 3A state championship, finished the 2003 season 181-of-319 passing for 2,963 yards and 42 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. He rushed for 1,488 yards on 230 carries and scored 25 touchdowns, including an interception and punt return. His 67 touchdowns this season set a state record.

Nickson has a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to major in business. The Commodores lost a backup quarterback over the winter break when Lance Parker elected not to return to school.

Verbal commitments are not binding. National signing day is Feb. 4. For a complete current list of Vanderbilt commitments for the class of 2004, click here.

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