SDS will break down all 14 SEC schools and the challenges they face in recruiting, and how they overcome them. At the end, we’ll rank them in terms of who is set up best for success–based on factors like in-state talent, recent success on the field, fan expectations and the coaching situation. We will also give the school a ‘situation’ grade (A, B, C, D, F) in each category. Some states have an A-level volume of talent, others don’t … that’s how it will work. At the end of the series we’ll do a final overall ranking.
HOME STATE TALENT: “B” – We upgraded the University of Tennessee’s ranking to a ‘B’ for in-state talent, so we’ll stay consistent with Vanderbilt. Yes, there is talent in Tennessee, but of course the Commodores have to recruit differently than much of the SEC, so in-state talent may not apply as much for them.
RECENT SUCCESS: “A” – This is a tricky ranking because so much changed in the offseason with the coaching change. The program has been as successful in recent years as it has been in many decades–with two straight nine-win seasons and three straight bowl games. That certainly helps when it comes to attracting not just recruits, but the elite national recruits who actually are elite students too. Vandy battles Northwestern, Stanford, etc for recruits as much as it battles the typical SEC foes–and when the ‘Dores are winning, it sticks out nationally because football recruits who are also strong students would love to play football in the SEC, too.
FAN EXPECTATIONS: “A” – Vanderbilt fans are stoked with the bowl seasons and the back-to-back nine win years. There is nothing but optimism here, but there’s never been a ton of negativity to hurt the program, either.
COACHING STABILITY: “C” – The coaching change shook things up in January, greatly. Players decommitted left and right and questions were raised. Derek Mason has come from Stanford and is just getting things rolling in the recruiting world. Vandy is a different beast, recruiting wise–just like Stanford. It may take a year or two of success to really claim that Vandy’s coaching situation is as good as it was under James Franklin. One has to think that at least in the back of their minds, recruits do wonder if things could go back to the typical sub-.500 records that plagued Vandy for decades.
SUM IT UP: Vanderbilt almost deserves to be in its own recruiting ranking category, because it’s not quite like the rest of the SEC. You’d almost like to assign a N/A to the Commodores because they deal with a different recruiting scenario than the rest of the league. Hard to compare.
Editor’s note: Any reference to recruiting ratings in this series–team or individual–are to 247Sports.com’s industry composite ranking.