Justin Wheeler picked the Commodores over an offer from Duke, and he also had attracted attention in recent weeks from South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and Kentucky, among others. Wheeler made up his mind after visiting Vanderbilt on Saturday to watch the Commodores play Florida.
"I just saw no reason to wait, because I feel like I really fit in well at Vanderbilt," Wheeler said. "They have everything in a college that I was looking for … they have a degree that you can put up against any in the nation, including the Ivy League schools.
"And Vanderbilt's football program is really on the rise. It took a near-perfect second half from (Florida quarterback) Chris Leak for the
Gators to beat them on Saturday. I really love the direction the program is going in, and I want to be a part of it."
Wheeler told Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson the news when they saw each other after the Florida game on Saturday.
"I just told Coach Johnson I wanted to be a Commodore," Wheeler said. "He was excited and I was excited and my parents were excited."
Wheeler is a teammate of North Augusta ATH C.J. Byrd, who has more scholarship offers than any other player in South Carolina with 33. North Augusta coach Joe Long said the Commodores have gotten a steal with Wheeler.
"This is a kid who if he plays football all four years in high school … he would be recruited by Top 10 schools like Georgia and Florida State," Long said. "But it all worked out perfect in the end, because Vanderbilt is such a great fit for him. It's going to fun to see how good Justin can get in college when he dedicates himself to football year-round."
Wheeler has already met college academic requirements with a 3.7 GPA and
1040 score on his first SAT attempt. Wheeler is an all-state point guard for the North Augusta basketball team, which begins play later this month. He had offers in basketball from Winthrop and the College of Charleston, and was on the
watchlist with a dozen other bigger schools.
"I feel so blessed with how everything worked out," Wheeler said. "I appreciate Coach Long for letting me come out for football as a senior. I
didn't realize how much I missed football until I got back on the field. It's in my blood and I am excited that I will have the chance to play at the
Vanderbilt Adds Another Big Commitment
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