Commodores land 22 signees

Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson announced the signing of 21 high school seniors and one junior college transfer at a Wednesday afternoon national signing day press conference. "We're excited about the team we're bringing in here," said Johnson. "I'm confident, more confident than I've ever been, that we're going to be able to compete in this league in football."

Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson announced the signing of 21 high school seniors and one junior college transfer at a Wednesday afternoon national signing day press conference.

"We're excited about the team we're bringing in here," said Johnson.  "I'm confident, more confident than I've ever been, that we're going to be able to compete in this league in football."

Johnson's signing class included two players from the Midstate, (Marcus Buggs of Goodpasture Christian and Stephon Johnson of Marshall County), as well as players from as far away as Massachusetts and Utah.  The class was especially heavy on defensive backs and offensive linemen, two key rebuilding needs for the 2003 season.  The class included six offensive linemen, all 6-4 or taller, and five defensive backs.

Perhaps the class's two most highly touted signees were the two who were the first to commit: Marcus Dixon, a defensive lineman from Lindale, Ga., and Jonathan Loyte, a tight end from Gloucester, Mass.  Both players remained committed to Vanderbilt despite numerous other offers, said Johnson.

The Commodores entered the day hoping to sign a total of 22 high school prospects.  The only surprise occurred when Evandall Williams, a linebacker from Havana, Fla., signed with Central Florida.  Williams was originally a UCF commit, but reportedly switched his commitment to Vanderbilt earlier in the week.

Vanderbilt also lost out on the services of Andre Fluellen, a defensive lineman from Cartersville, Ga., who had narrowed his choices to Vanderbilt and Florida State before announcing for Florida State late Tuesday.

But Johnson did also announce the signing of Bill Alford, a transfer from Middle Georgia Junior College who is already enrolled in school and expected to participate in spring practice.  Alford is Vanderbilt-s first junior college transfer since 1994, but Johnson was quick to point out that Alford is not your average junior college transfer.

"Bill made close to 1200 on his SAT," said Johnson.  "He was injured his senior year, and ended up not playing a lot. He went to junior college to hone his skills, not his academics.  We saw some film on him from both high school and junior college.

"Our receivers work against our defensive backs just about every Wednesday.  They say he's doing a good job.  I think he'll be a valuable member of our secondary."

One signee, Tom Sorensen, will not report until January, 2004.  Sorensen, who is Mormon, plans to enroll for one semester before embarking on a two-year LDS mission.  He would then have four years of eligibility left after returning in 2006.

The list of Wednesday's signees as released by Vanderbilt's media relations department is as follows:

Bill Alford DB 5-9 175 Brunswick, Ga. Brunswick HS/Middle Ga. College

Nick Brigham TE 6-4 238 Leesville, S.C. Batesburg-Leesville HS

Marcus Buggs DB 5-11 200 Madison, Tenn. Goodpasture Christian HS

Antron Dillon DE 6-5 217 Independence, La. Independence HS

Marcus Dixon DE 6-6 250 Lindale, Ga. Pepperell HS

Sean Dixon DB 6-0 170 Tampa, Fla. Chamberlain HS

Josh Eames OL 6-4 280 North Cape May, N.J. Lower Cape May HS

Curtis Gatewood LB 6-4 215 Memphis, Tenn. White Station HS

Jonathan Goff LB 6-3 215 Stoneham, Mass. St. John's Preparatory School

Elliot Hood OL 6-6 265 Indianapolis, Ind. Franklin Central HS

Greg Jacobs DL 6-3 255 Midlothian, Va. Fork Union Military Academy

Stephon Johnson WR/DB 6-4 190 Lewisburg, Tenn. Marshall County HS

Merritt Kirchoffer OL 6-5 280 Roswell, Ga. Roswell HS

Jonathan Loyte TE 6-6 250 Gloucester, Mass. St. John's Preparatory School

Darnell Martemus DB 5-11 192 Cleveland, Ohio St. Ignatius HS

Lance Parker QB 6-2 185 Bryant, Ark. Bryant HS

George Smith WR 6-3 195 Hollywood, Fla. Hollywood Hills HS

Tom Sorensen OL 6-4 290 Sandy, Utah Brighton HS

Brian Stamper OL 6-5 265 Windermere, Fla. Lake Highland Prep 

Khalil Sutton DB 5-11 180 College Park, Ga. Westlake HS

Marlon White WR 6-4 185 Macon, Ga. Macon Westside HS

Chris Williams OL 6-6 260 Glynn, La. Catholic HS


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