Derek Mason has put a bow on his fifth signing class since taking over at Vanderbilt in 2014.
As far as overall class ratings go, this one turned out to be his best effort yet. The Commodores ranked at No. 41 in the 247Sports 2018 class rankings, which was a significant jump from No. 65 in the 2017 rankings.
Grading Vanderbilt’s 2018 offensive signing class
Four-star wide receiver Camron Johnson is the gem of the offensive signing class for Mason, and he’s been in the fold since the early signing period in December. Out of nearby Brentwood Academy in the Nashville suburbs, Johnson was a huge recruiting win for the Commodores. He ranks as the No. 43 wide receiver in the class and the No. 263 overall player according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Aside from Johnson, the Commodores filled things out with three additional 3-star wideouts who all check in at 6-foot-2 or taller.
Pro-style quarterback Allan Walters was another solid early signee for the Commodores’ class. With Jacob Free, who was last year’s quarterback signee for the Commodores, out of the mix after a transfer, it was important for Mason to get a quality addition at the position for this class. Walters ranks as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Grading Vanderbilt’s 2018 defensive signing class
As usual, some of Mason’s biggest recruiting victories can be found on the defensive side of the ball.
The prize of the class is 4-star inside linebacker Alston Orji, who signed on with the Commodores during the early signing period. He rates as the No. 12 inside linebacker in the country and sneaks into the 247Sports Top 247 at No. 245. He should be a candidate to contribute immediately for a Vanderbilt defense that had an uncharacteristically poor output during the 2017 season.
Four-star safety Brendon Harris was another good in-state recruiting win for Mason. The talented defender out of Chattanooga adds to an area of general recruiting strength for the former Stanford defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Selling his experience turning Richard Sherman into one of the top cornerbacks in the world has always been an asset for Mason when it comes to reeling in defensive backs. Tre Douglas represents the Commodores’ top cornerback signee of the recruiting class.
Grading Vanderbilt’s 2018 overall signing class
Mason may have had issues stopping SEC opponents on his way to a 1-7 conference mark during the 2017 season, but it did not prevent him from locking down his best overall recruiting class to date.
Vanderbilt must be graded on a different scale than the rest of the league when it comes to recruiting, which is nothing new to Commodores fans.
Given that Vanderbilt landed one of the nation’s elite linebackers, a handful of useful defensive backs, a talented quarterback and four well-regarded wideouts to catch passes from him, it’s pretty easy to call this recruiting class an overall success for the Commodores. Whether this group of incoming freshman will add the boost needed to get back into postseason play in 2018 remains to be seen.
Overall grade: B