Vanderbilt has never been known as a football power in the SEC -- at least, not in the last several decades -- and that lack of success has traditionally been matched with (or perhaps because of) poor recruiting. But head coach James Franklin has the Commodores playing at a much higher level, and he's bringing in talent not previously seen at Vandy.
The 'Dores only rank 11th out of 14 SEC teams, per 247Sports' composite ratings, but that's a result of the stiff competition they face from their conference mates. Vanderbilt's current class is No. 25 in the country, according to 247.
Pro-style quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels is the Commodores' top prospect so far for the Class of 2014. The younger bother of current Vandy starting QB Austyn Carta-Samuels, he is rated as a four-star player and stands 6'2 and weighs in at 210 pounds. Out of San Jose, Calif., Bellarmine Prep, he's the No. 11 pro-style QB in the class and No. 24 player in the state of California. Running back Mikale Wilbon is a three-star prospect out of Chicago's De La Salle Institute. Checking in at 5'9 and 195 pounds, he's the 19th-best running back in the class and 12th-best player from Illinois.
On the defensive side of the ball, Vanderbilt's 2014 class is led by four-star safety Kyle Gibson. Out of Seffner, Fla., Armwood High, he's the No. 21 safety in the country and the No. 37 player from the state of Florida. Michael Sawyers is a three-star defensive tackle with good size at 6'2, 300 pounds. From Nashville's Ensworth High, he's the 33rd-best player at his position and eighth-best player from Tennessee.
Despite the success, Vanderbilt is not recruiting at a level that will allow the Commodores to compete for a division title. Vanderbilt is only in realistic contention for two four-star or better prospects, and landing both could go a long way to prevent an inter-division backslide with Tennessee and Kentucky recruiting at very high levels.
Linebacker Nyles Morgan, of Crete (Il.) Monee High School, is considering Vanderbilt along with Ole Miss, a school that is presumed to be his favorite. And receiver Jalen brown, of Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Point High School, likes Vanderbilt along with Arizona and Wisconsin.