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July 28, 2014

The Vandy Dozen

Vanderbilt recruiting has been on an upswing over the last several years as the program has enjoyed its best five-year period since the early 1990's, with several prospects turning into impact players during the Commodores three straight bowl trips.

New head coach Derek Mason and his staff are looking to continue this momentum with the 2015 recruiting cycle, though the program is expected to sign a smaller class than normal, with no more than 15 prospects likely to sign National Letters of Intent in February.

As part of it's recruiting coverage, VandySports.com takes a look at the very top prospects on the Commodore radar and rankings them according in The Vandy Dozen.

The Vandy Dozen ranking is based on a combination of Rivals.com impact projections, Vanderbilt's level of interest, perceived position needs for the Commodores, VandySports.com's own impact projections, and the individual prospects perceived level of interest in the 'Dores.

The Commodores added two huge commitments in July when No.1 rated target Josh Smith committed to the program while at the Opening Event in Oregon. Days later, three-star Arizona standout, ranked 8th on the second edition of the Vandy Dozen, committed to the program. Vanderbilt now sits at eight commitments with only around seven spots left to fill.

THE VANDY DOZEN: 3rd Edition


Prospect Bio & Notes


Alex Givens
Nashville, Tenn. OL
6-6 280 pounds

One of Tennessee's top offensive line prospects, Givens is a prospect that the Commodore staff gravitated to once it arrived in Nashville. The local tackle prospect has received consistent attention from VU since the cycle began and has made a few trips to campus, including one a few weeks ago. It now appears as though he's choosing between Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, though Ohio State could still be a factor as well. He seems like a natural fit for VU's offensive scheme and the staff would love to keep him in middle Tennessee. He may decide before his high school season starts.


KeShawn Vaughn
Nashville, Tenn. RB
5-10 203 pounds
Vaughn is the top running back in the state of Tennessee for the 2015 period, and now he has emerged as a major target for the Commodores. Vaughn has been on the radar since the staff arrived in January, but he really made a leap up the list after a dominating performance at Vanderbilt's FNL camp in June. A well-built, athletic prospect, Vaughn showed he was not only a capable pro-style runner, he also proved he was quite effective as a pass-catcher. The Pearl-Cohn product currently has VU among his group of six schools, but it may be a while before he makes his decision. He now ranks as one of the most wanted targets by the staff.


Gary Jennings
Stafford, Va. WR
6-2 195 pounds
One of Virginia's top playmakers, Jennings has become the top receiver target for the Commodores. The highly athletic, basketball guard impressed the staff during the spring evaluation period and received an offer in May. Jennings has the combination of shift, elusiveness, quickness and strength that the program is looking for now after adding a few bigger receivers in 2014. Jennings took a visit to Nashville in June and came away impressed. He visited West Virginia over the weekend, but he still appears to be very interested in the Commodores.

Dare Odeyingbo
Irving, Texas DE/LB
6-2 243 pounds

One of the nation's top fullbacks, Odeyingbo has emerged as a major target for the Commodores as a DE/LB. The Texas standout performed very well during Vanderbilt's FNL camp a few weeks ago, impressing VU coaches with his strength, agility and quick reaction skills. He also turned heads during 1-on-1's by keeping up with faster prospects. The Commodores soon offered Odeyingbo after the camp and now he's one of the top targets as both a DE & LB. He plans to make a decision soon and will be deciding between VU and Missouri. Rivals.com ranks him 3rd among fullback prospects and 82nd in Texas.


Canton Kaumatule
Honolulu, Hawaii DE
6-7 275 pounds
One of the nation's top defensive linemen, Kaumatule has emerged as one of VU's top targets at the position. The Hawaiian product received a scholarship in April after DL coach Frank Maile visited his high school and things have progressed from there. The four-star prospect has the size and strength to play the five-technique and he fits the mold of what VU is looking for off the field. The Commodores hope to get him on campus later this fall for an official visit. He has a previous relationship with members of the coaching staff. Kaumatule ranks at No. 136 in the Rivals250.


Andrew Dowell
Lakeland, Ohio RB
6-0 200 pounds
Dowell is one of the nation's top backs, ranking 28th at the position according to Rivals.com. The 6-foot, 200-pound power back has been on VU's radar since the program took over and the coaches offered during the spring period. Dowell brings a good blend of strength and explosiveness as a runner. The Ohio native committed to Northwestern in April but that has not stopped the Commodores from pursuing him. Time will tell if anything happens, but Vanderbilt has him and his brother David firmly among its top targets at this time. The balanced four-star back could be a real difference maker.


Porter Gustin
Salem, Utah LB
6-5 257 pounds
Gustin has become one of the nation's top defensive prospects. The Utah product went from a relatively unknown when Vanderbilt offered him in April to now the nation's No. 113 rated prospect. The Commodore staff has spent a lot of time building a relationship with the four-star, making several visits to his high school. Gustin has stated he'd like to visit VU, but so many schools are now vying for his services. He has the idea size and ability to play outside linebacker in VU's 3-4 scheme. It may be a while before he makes his choice.


Rex Manu
Mililani, Hawaii DL
6-3 290 pounds

Manu is one of the top prospects from the state of Hawaii. Though he committed to Stanford in early April, Vanderbilt offered towards the end of that month and the two parties are working with each other during the recruiting process. The Commodores love Manu's versatility as a inside and outside potential prospect that could play multiple techniques along the defensive line. Manu still claims to be a solid commitment to the Cardinal, but those around him say that VU, Oregon and a few other schools have a good chance to get visits later this year. VU considers him a priority target at defensive end.


Reggie Gallaspy
Greensboro, N.C. RB
5-10 217 pounds
Gallaspy is another top running back that has caught Vanderbilt's attention. Ranking 36th at the position nationally according to Rivals.com, Gallaspy brings power and speed to the table and has a surprising ability to cutback against the defense and churn out more yards. The North Carolina native visited Vanderbilt in July and came away impressed. He again visited the school on Friday. VU likes his vision as well as his power. He has since named a Top 5 that includes the Commodores along with Arkansas, Duke, NC State and Michigan State. His time table for a decision could be within the next month or so.


Bradrick Shaw
Hoover, Ala. RB
6-1 195 pounds

Shaw is another top running back that the Commodores are targeting and he comes with the highest regarded credentials. The Alabama standout ranks 14th among running backs according to Rivals.com and is the nation's No. 138 overall prospect. Vanderbilt targeted Shaw soon after the staff took over in January and he's made multiple visits to campus. A quick runner with good vision and feel for pressure, Shaw is also an ideal fit academically. He currently has a top three of VU, South Carolina and Mississippi State, but has laid out no time table for a decision. Another visit to Nashville could be in the works soon.


Mika Tafua
Honolulu, Hawaii LB
6-3 220 pounds
Another top prospect from the state of Hawaii, Tafua has emerged as one of Vanderbilt's top targets at linebacker this spring. The high three-star committed to BYU in January of 2013, but has made himself available to be recruited by other schools and has a strong interest in what the Commodores have to offer. Defensive line coach Frank Maile is leading his recruitment and Tafua told VS he plans to make a visit to Nashville later this fall. Rivals.com ranks him 17th among weakside defensive ends, but the staff sees him as a outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.


David Dowell
Lakeland, Ohio ATH
6-0 177 pounds

Dowell is one of the most versatile prospects on Vanderbilt's board. The four-star prospect ranks 17th among all athletes according to Rivals.com and the Commodores have been interested since the winter. A highly skilled player, Dowell could fit a number of positions at the next level including defensive back or receiver. Vanderbilt offered in the spring, and though he committed to Northwestern in April, he has remained a firm target for the staff throughout the summer. Like his brother, time will tell if anything happens but VU is increasing its pursuit in the multifaceted prospect.

Also Considered: Frank Buncom IV (DB)- San Diego, Calif.; Steven Claude (WR)- Hialeah, Fla.; Emanuel Hall (WR)- Franklin, Tenn.; Jackson Harris- Columbia, Tenn.; Daniel Imatorbhebhe- Suwanee, Ga.; Joshua McMillon (LB)- Memphis, Tenn.; Quenton Meeks (DB)- San Diego, Calif.; Christian Rector (LB)- Los Angeles, Calif.; Marvell Tell (S)- Encio, Calif.; Semisi Uluave (OL)- Honolulu, Hawaii and Christian Wilkins (DL)- Suffield, Conn.

Note: The Vandy Dozen is in no way an exact representation of the Vanderbilt coaching staff's actual player evaluations or ranking system. VandySports.com is a media website that is independently generated as part of the Rivals.com network.

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