The latest from Recruiting Central

Commitments, rumors of commitments, de-commitments... things change from hour to hour in the madcap world of recruiting. With less than two weeks until signing day, here's the latest info we've got on a number of prospects for Vanderbilt's last few available scholarship slots.

Just one short week ago, Vanderbilt looked to be in good shape to land commitments from receiver Earl Bennett and running back Brandyn Young. Both had re-opened up their recruiting after making early commitments, and both would be taking their last official visits to Vanderbilt on Jan. 21. The Commodores had hoped to put the hard sell on both, with the promise (especially to Young) of immediate playing time.

But how quickly things can change in football recruiting. Young decided to end it all last night when he made a commitment to South Carolina and Steve Spurrier. He told Scout.com's Dale McDuffie he would be canceling his Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech visits.

Bennett is still expected in for a visit this weekend... but don't expect an on-the-spot commitment, no matter how well things go. The new school on Bennett's list is Notre Dame, and the connection is former Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe. Bennett, who has already taken visits to Kentucky and Southern Miss, now plans to take a Jan. 28 visit to South Bend, and the Irish are suddenly thought to have moved into strong contention. It's unlikely Bennett would cancel a final-weekend visit to the Golden Dome.

Vanderbilt has already landed a commitment from its top quarterback from the Top Prospects Camp last June-- that would be Mackenzi Adams of Tulsa. Landing Bennett would also mean a commitment from that camp's top receiver.

We also hear that Notre Dame tried recently to move in on Vanderbilt safety commitment Ryan Hamilton of Council Rock North in Pa. We'll keep you posted.

******

Suddenly, the need for tailbacks at Vanderbilt is acute, and this is not the first year Vandy has had trouble landing tailbacks. Two years ago the Commodore staff went after a number of high-profile tailbacks and struck out, and as a result today there's a palpable shortage of running backs on campus. That's terrible news for Ted Cain and the Vanderbilt offense, which depends on at least two and many times three tailbacks to carry the mail.

The Commodores landed one tailback last week in speedy Jared Hawkins of Klein, Texas. With Brandyn Young now out of the picture, the focus shifts to Clifford Harris (5-10, 210, 4.5) of Marrero (La.) Higgins (pictured at right), who will make his official visit this weekend.

Harris was the quarterback in the Higgins offense this season, but his team was a run-only team, and Harris ended up as the ball-carrier approximately a third of the time. It's down to Vanderbilt and Duke for Harris, who's also a very good student in the classroom.

But so far this year Vanderbilt has been losing most of its head-to-head battles with Duke. What happens if Harris opts for the Blue Devils? Duran Coger, who committed last week, could still end up on the offensive side of the ball. He had a 1,400-yard rushing year for Alabama 4A runner-up Deshler.

Then there are still Luke Landers of Nashville-CPA, who visited last weekend and is still without an offer; and record-setting tailback Roger Herndon of Greenbrier, who was still looking for a place to land at last report. We believe either or both would snap up a Vandy offer. Landers is scheduled to visit Samford this weekend.

******

Steven Stone, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound defensive end from Conway, Ark., was on campus Tuesday with his family for an official visit. Stone says he's now down to Rice and Vanderbilt, the two schools that have offered, and that academics will play a big role in his ultimate decision. With a 32 ACT score, Stone is easily the brainiest prospect on Vandy's list this season.

And he's not too shabby on the football field either, says his high school coach, Kenny Smith.

"We have about a five-and-a-half-minute film clip that we sent out to the various schools," Smith said. "He's knocking down passes, blocking punts, chasing people down. Due to being a two-sport guy [Stone also stars at basketball], he's not really been in the weight room as much as he will be now. Once he declares himself a one-sport guy, he could carry 255 or 260 pounds easily."

******

So, what happened with Wyatt Batchelor, the lineman from Vestavia Hills who had committed to Vanderbilt in November after making an unofficial visit? Batchelor later received offers from both Army and Navy, and the Birmingham-Vestavia Hills product was overcome by a sense of patriotism and desire to serve his country. "The Batchelor" will now play for Bobby Ross at Army.

You can now pretty much scratch Bobby Greenwood off the list; the Prattville, Ala. defensive end will choose between Auburn, Alabama and Florida State.

******

And lastly, will Vanderbilt have a scholarship available at the very end for a kicker? It seems to come down to this situation every year, doesn't it? While many schools have success encouraging kickers to walk on, the high tuition costs at Vandy make doing so a much dicier proposition.

Keep in mind that the Commodores already have three kickers on scholarship in Patrick Johnson, Daniel Lee and Kyle Keown. As usual, several non-scholarship candidates will compete as well for the starting job next fall. But Abtin Iranmanesh can't come back to reclaim his job this year, and we've heard that if a good combo candidate were available who could compete for both the punting and placekicking jobs, the staff might consider it.

Some possibilities include Nashville-MBA's Bryant Hahnfeldt, the Mr. Football among kickers in Tennessee; Patrick McGlon, who handled both duties at Buford High School in Georgia; and David DeFatta of Franklin, Tenn.

******

Stay up to the minute on Vanderbilt recruiting with Scout.com's Hot News alerts on Vanderbilt... and check out our VandyMania football recruiting message board for breaking news.


Commodores Daily Top Stories