Derek Mason will have a lot of ground to make up in his 7th season on the West End, and that likely starts with a spark in recruiting.

This class is No. 69 (rankings change quickly as we near Early Signing Period). Last year’s class finished No. 57. The 2018 class finished No. 41. The 2017 class was No. 65.

One issue brought up when Athletics Director Malcolm Turner announced Mason would return in 2020 was recruiting, but facilities and recruiting often go hand in hand.

“He’s tried to be insightful about what he sees and for him, our conversations have been short but very, very specific about making sure we try to figure out what’s our best Vanderbilt and moving forward,” Mason said.

It’s unclear how quickly the Commodores can close the gap, but Mason understands the bar he has to meet after a season in which he had the fewest number of wins (3) since his first season. Under Mason, Vanderbilt has won 3, 4, 6, 5, 6 and 3 games. Developing this class, and the players already on the roster is paramount to his job security past next season.

Here’s what you need to know about Vanderbilt’s recruiting class as we near the Early Signing Period (Dec. 18-20):


  • National rank: 69
  • SEC rank: 13
  • 5-stars: 0
  • 4-stars: 0
  • 3-stars: 12

Best player: 3-star S Donovan Kaufman

He led his team, Archbishop Rummel, to an appearance in the state championship. Kaufman is the No. 35 safety in the country, and the No. 19 player in Louisiana. Listed at 5-9 and 195 pounds, he has a reported 17 offers but none from other SEC schools.

In 2018, Kaufman helped his team reach the Division I semifinals. Kaufman recorded 7 sacks, had 2 interceptions, recovered 2 fumbles and scored 2 touchdowns, according to Crescent City Sports.

Assessing the QBs: Ken Seals

The 6-3, 202-pound Seals is a native of Weatherford, Texas and is ranked as a 3-star prospect. In addition to his star ranking, Seals is listed as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback prospect from Texas after he passed for 2,654 yards and 20 touchdowns during his junior season for Weatherford High School. Seals led his team to a 7-4 record in 2019.

Seals’ recruitment became increasingly more important as Riley Neal will be gone next season, Mo Hasan might not be able to come back from concussions, and Deuce Wallace and Allan Walters didn’t deliver much production when given the chance.

Biggest need filled: Offensive line

Of the slew of 3-star recruits Vanderbilt has, the highest ranked at his position is Kevo Wesley from Chicago’s Curie Metropolitan. He’s also No. 11 center in the nation and the No. 7 player in Illinois.

The Commodores turned over 3 starters a year ago, so the unit is still young. But the Commodores still picked up 4 commits on the offensive line, including a local 2-star from Nashville, Wesley Schelling.

Biggest needs that need to be filled: Running back

Freshman Keyon Brooks had 70 yards rushing against Tennessee, but the program will have a difficult time replacing Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and so far, the Commodores only have 1 running back commitment in the fold, Rocko Griffin from Guyton, Georgia.

Known for his speed, Griffin in spring 2019 at the Georgia High School Association track meet finished 2nd in the 100-meter with a time of 11.06 and 3rd in the 200m with a running of 22.58, according to Vandy247.

Best position group: Receiver

Including Diego LaMonica at tight end, with WR Logan Kyle, the Commodores needed some fresh faces at receiver and tight end following the departures of Kalija Lipscomb and Jared Pinkney. Kyle ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and a 4.21 shuttle run at the Opening earlier this year, and also had a 32.5-inch vertical leap, according to his recruiting profile.

LaMonica was good enough to choose Vandy over offers from South Carolina, Georgia Tech and UCF. The 6-4, 226-pounder Sunshine State’s No. 103 overall prospect for the class of 2020, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings. He chose Vandy over offers from South Carolina, Georgia Tech and UCF,

Best player still chasing: Cade Fortin

A former North Carolina quarterback, Fortin reportedly narrowed his transfer list to Kansas, Syracuse and Vanderbilt. He’s expected to announce his decision soon.

Fortin, who is 6-3 and 210 pounds, appeared in 4 games in 2018, and started 2 before he redshirted. He went 23-of-65 for 388 yards and a TD, while rushing for 76 yards and a TD on 14 carries. His best game might have been 276 yards and a TD against NC State.