The Hoover cornerback, who made a solid impression on coaches at Vanderbilt's All-Positions Camp last June and received an offer shortly afterward, made an unofficial visit to Vanderbilt Oct. 2 with his father for the Dores' win over Mississippi State. That and talking with the coaches in person helped seal his decision, he said.
"I think what pushed me over the edge was that visit," Caldwell said. "I just liked the campus, the feeling, everything. I loved the crowd, and the fact that it's SEC competition.
"I was able to meet all the coaches. They were all very nice. They tell you how it is and they don't lie to you. They are very straightforward.
"It's a very nice campus. They have a great football program and nice facilities."
With legitimate 4.42 speed in the 40-yard dash, Caldwell anchored Hoover's 4x400 relay team that qualified last spring for the 6A state track meet and finished eighth.
On the season, Caldwell has already registered two interceptions and 19 tackles. Two other members of Hoover's defensive secondary have also already made college commitments: Cory Reamer (Alabama) and Jahi Word-Daniels (Georgia Tech). Hoover faces Pelham on Friday night.
"He plays corner for us. He played safety last year," said Propst. "He's around the 6-foot range, a little tall for a corner, which we like. He's a great player, comes from a great family. He's had two older brothers who've played college football.
"We've had a lot of great corners here. Jahi Word-Daniels and Joel Caldwell are two of the most outstanding corners I've ever coached. It gives you the luxury of being able to play your safeties in the box, and let those two guys battle it out."
Caldwell joins Tulsa, Okla. quarterback Mackenzi Adams as the Commodores' only commitment to date. National signing day is Feb. 2, 2005.