Fennell: Vandy on Cusp of Great Things

Defense has been a cornerstone of Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) High School's success. Their 15-0 2011 state championship team notched six shutouts during their epic Class 5A run. Last year's team slipped a bit, but the key to the defense may be Daniel Fennell, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound weakside linebacker. Fennell, who recently broke the 20-offer barrier, spoke with VandyMania.com on his recruiting.

"Coach Bankins has been talking to me way before the offer came about a month ago," Fennell said. "He said they like how long I am, that I'm a rangy player who can move well and cover a lot of ground, and I'm a solid tackler. The offer was at Will linebacker.

"I think [Vanderbilt] is a team on the cusp of great things. Honest to God, I think they're the smartest school in the SEC and that's what my parents really like about them. I don't really know a lot about Coach Mason. I've heard nothing but good things about him. I think he's taken over a really good team left by Coach Franklin and he'll do well there. My plan is to visit campus some time this summer while getting to know the coaches better."

Fennell's other two SEC offers are from Texas A&M and Mississippi State. The ACC has shown the most interest of any conference with offers from Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), Pitt, and Virginia.

"I have no favorites," he said. "I'm looking for a place where I can play. I mean, I don't just want to sit there and do nothing. I'm looking for a place with good academics. I don't want to go too far from home. I wouldn't mind going to a place far from home, but my parents would like it if I'm close. I'm not sure I'll have a decision ready by the end of summer. I'm shooting for [a decision] by the end of the the football season."

Fennell was named first team All-Gwinnett County in 2013, but the Rams slipped to a 4-6 record and only a 4th place finish in their region. With rising seniors like Fennell, Justin Young, who committed to UGA, and Jordan Hayes, who committed to Duke, Grayson should return to form in 2014.

"I really do think we'll get things turned around," Fennell said on his team's chances. "We were young last year, but we return too much experience and talent to have a repeat of last year."

Grayson is led by head coach Mickey Conn, who played defensive back at the University of Alabama and was a graduate assistant coach at the school prior to taking over the newly-formed Ram football program in the year 2000.

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