I call Coach Mason Santa in a very respectful way because commits to me are like Christmas morning. Just totally happy stuff. And Coach Mason and the staff delivered three more super players to this now five man class for 2017. Super young men and outstanding football players. Coach Mason's approach is so similar to the Stanford blueprint that Jim Harbaugh started and David Shaw has built on and expounded upon. Sign really good players, who may not be as highly ranked as some of the four or five stars, but guys who you can win a lot of games with and start landing those highly rated guys in the future. That's Coach Mason's blueprint and I love it. He's landed some highly touted players already like high four star defensive tackle Nifae Lealao, four star quarterback Kyle Shurmur, and serious four star cornerback Joejuan Williams. And there are many other exceptional players in Coach Mason's last three classes who are going to make this Vanderbilt football program one to be seriously reckoned with in the SEC and nationally this year and for many year's to come.
This year's 2016 team has a lot of those players, some of whom Coach Mason inherited from Coach Franklin, but many he recruited. But he's the one who's been coaching up guys like Oren Burks, Zach Cunningham, Adam Butler, Ralph Webb, C.J. Duncan and Andrew Jelks and he's the one who's going to put this potentially stellar 2016 team on the field when we open up against Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks on ESPN, Thursday, Sept. 1st at 7 PM CT/8 PM ET at Vanderbilt Stadium, and it's going to be a football team we're going to like a lot with Kyle and a ton of offensive weapons around him leading the offense under Coach Mason and Coach Ludwig, and Oren and Zach and the defense under Coach Mason and his defensive staff. Can't wait for that. And he has been and is adding stud after stud with the addition of the three latest stellar players to this now 5 man, 2017 class. I know I get excited, but Coach Mason and all of our coaches, Corbs, Bryce, Geoff, Scott Limbaugh, make Vanderbilt Sports something to be ecstatic about. Here's a look at the newest additions:
6'5", 270, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Grant is rated a 78, a high two star, but he's a lot better player than that, and his rating will go up as the fall progresses. His father, Fred Miller, played in the NFL for 13 years with the St.Louis Rams, the Tennessee Titans and the Bears, and Grant spent some of his formative years in Nashville. Watched Grant's film and loved it. He's still growing and could be a 6'7", 320 player for us by his redshirt freshman year. His potential has no ceiling. His run blocking is strong, bull dozing, physical. He pass blocks well. Grant needs to keep working on his foot work and his strength, but that will definitely develop under his coaching at Aquinas, a powerhouse nationally in high school football. 2016 VU cornerback signee Frank Coppet had an outstanding career at Aquinas and won at least one state title and close to a national title. Aquinas wins state championships and are always heavy national powers. Grant will definitely develop under Coach Dobson's conditioning and coach Cameron Norcoss's coaching on the o line when he gets to VU. He looks like he has a frame to be a powerhouse. He played right tackle this season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, on the Gulf Coast between Tampa and Sarasota, kind of the southern Gulf coastal area, and transferred to Aquinas this spring. Love the potential of Grant at tackle for us. And we got a left tackle too....
Bryce is a 6'5", 290, 85 three star offensive tackle from Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana who committed today. Bryce has room to grow and his film looks electric. He's as tough as an F-150, and loves to inflict physicality on any defensive player he can find. Bryce is a left tackle. We'll love him. Bryce could be a guy who can make the two deep his freshman year, though we're getting pretty loaded up front, so Bryce may be getting bigger and tougher under Coach Dobson his first year, though he's plenty tough right now. Love this toughness of these guys. Bryce can be a dominating left tackle for us in the years to come. Our third commit of the last two days followed Grant's and Bryce's lead and he is:
McLane is an 86 three star athlete who stands 5'10, 175 and hails from football powerhouse Midland High School in Midland, Texas. They play some really good football in Midland, and Mannix's film is through the roof good. McLane runs like an F-15, he looks 4.3-4.4ish, and he is a superb punt returner, running back, cornerback, and slot receiver. He can motor when he gets his hands on the football. I saw him make so many amazing plays on film my head was spinning. There are wow moments after wow moments on McLane's film. He really looks like Christian McCaffrey 2.0 and I'm not exaggerating, I promise. McLane is a phenomenal football player from a national powerhouse. Love that combination. We are going to LOVE McLane Mannix.
So that makes 5 along with 86 three star quarterback Jacob Free from Brantley, Alabama, and 84, three star linebacker Colin Anderson from Brooks High School in Killen, AL.
By the way, Grant had offers from Minnesota, Colorado State and Florida Atlantic, but he's under the radar good, and he will develop. Bryce had a number of offers from schools like Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Syracuse, and a host of Ivy's. McLane didn't have offers from Baylor, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, and Texas Tech, but all were very interested. Air Force, Army and Brown all offered McLane.
We're getting super kids who also happen to be super football players. Coach Mason and his staff are finding guys who fit the Vanderbilt mode both academically and athletically. He likes those relentless, tough, intelligent players and all three of these guys along with the first two commits fit that mold to a T.
Ryan Flaherty had an excellent game for the Orioles in a 7-2 O's win over the Padres at Camden Yards last night. Ryan cranked a 398 yard blast into the right central field stands in the bottom of the fifth to give the O's a 4-2 lead. He played super third base, and just had an outstanding overall game for the O's. Pedro was 0 for 4 with a couple of K's, but his first hit was a shot that the second baseman for the Pads fielded in short right field and threw Pedro out barely at first. Teams put a shift on Pedro with the second baseman in short right field, the shortstop on the second base side of second and the third baseman at second because El Toro is such a good pull hitter. It's tough for him to get a hit through the right side, so I love it when he goes to left like he did Tuesday Night when he launched one of his two bombs, that one into the left field seats. That was Ryan's third homer of the season last night and 12th RBI. He's hitting .233. The average is coming up. Pedro is hitting .234 with 9 long ones and 24 Ribeyes. Both are trending well at the plate. They're two guys who can help carry this heavy arsenal of hitters for the O's. They did it at VU on that superb 2007 team that won the SEC Tournament in Hoover and was the No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where we lost a heartbreaker in the regional to Michigan. David Price was the top pick in the draft that year and was a horse for us as he is today for the BoSox.
The O's host the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend and the BoSox are @ Texas. David on the hill tomorrow night for the Sox.
Tampa Bay is starting stud lefty Matt Moore, so not sure if Buck Showalter will start Pedro and Ryan, but hopefully he will. Will let you know. David is now 8-4 with a 4.24 ERA, 24 walks and 109 K's, which is stellar, and a 1.12 WHIP, which is getting closer to David Price-like WHIP numbers. Again, WHIP is walks plus hits per innings and 1.00 is superb and below that is Hall of Fame stuff. David has a very good number right now. The ERA is high for David, but it's steadily dropping. His last five starts have been outstanding. The Sox came back and beat the ChiSox today at Fenway, which was huge as they had lost the first three games of the four game set with the White Sox at Fenway. The Bosox were down 4-1 going into the bottom of the sixth but scored four times to take a 5-4 lead. The White Sox came back and scored 3 times in the top of the seventh to take a 7-5 lead, but the Red Sox scored runs in the bottom of the 7th and 8th frames to tie it and won it in the bottom of the 10th on a Xander Bogaerts RBI single that scored right fielder Mookie Betts. Betts had two hits, Dustin Pedroia was two for four and Bogaerts was 2 for 5 including the game winner. Mookie is hitting .290, Dustin is hitting .309, and Xander is hitting .351, which leads the Major Leagues. What's even more amazing is David Ortiz, Big Papi. Papi is hitting .340, with 18 homers and 60 Ribeyes at 40 years young. Are you kiddin me? That's remarkable. He's remarkable.
Tyler Beede had a stellar outing today for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the San Francisco Giants' AA team. Tyler pitched six solid innings against the Hartford Yard Goats in a 4-2 Richmond loss. Tyler had a 2-1 lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold down the Goats' bats. Really? Yard Goats? Colorado Rockies AA team, classic.
Tyler gave up only five hits, one earned, with three walks and seven K's. His fastball was hitting 95-96, I was watching, and his curve and change up were clicking. Tyler left with the lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it. Tyler threw 104 pitches, 63 for strikes and 41 balls. Tyler is similar to Carson, who is a year behind him, and Sonny too, who's a couple of years ahead of him. They are just battlers, and while they throw quite a few balls because their stuff moves so much with intense velocity, they always get the job done and done extremely well. Tyler was the 21st pick by the Toronto Blue Jays coming out of his school in Massachusetts. That was 21st in the overall draft. He was offered at least $1.5 million to sign with the Jays, but turned down the money to come to Vanderbilt and play for Corbs. I know he's happy he did. He won a national championship in 2014 as our Friday Night starter, played in a remarkable program, and made super close friends for life, and now Tyler's reaping the benefits of his amazingly mature, integrity-filled decision to come to VU. Tyler is a superb guy. He's so intelligent and he's hysterically funny. He shot a video before his junior year in 2014 and asked some of the Vanderbilt undergrads if they knew who Tyler Beede was. The undergrads he asked were clueless and the way Tyler played it up and their responses were priceless comedy. Super guy. Really pleased Tyler is doing so well. He's now 4-4 with a 2.97 ERA for Richmond and is matriculating very well towards the Giants. He's not long for San Francisco. he can very well be on their 40 man roster in September when major league teams call up players from the minors, and has a legitimate shot to be in the Giants starting rotation in the next year or two. I see him being a Giant next season. Would love it for this tremendous and talented young man.
Geoff strikes again
Vanderbilt women's tennis coach Geoff McDonald just keeps getting it done. Today he signed five star Emma Kurtz out of Atlanta, who is ranked No.14 in the nation, No.5 in the Southeast and No.1 in the state of Georgia, a machine for tennis players. Tennisrecruiting.net. has Emma rated as a five star. Emma had a 63-13 juniors record, and is an exceptional student and athlete, who graduated early from high school to play at VU. Geoff likes getting players who are exceptional athletes, and who have room to grow as players and people under Geoff's tutelage. We've got Astra Sharma, Sydney Campbell, Fernanda Contreras and Georgina Sellyn coming back from our starting six this season and we've got some exciting young players who will compete with our returners for starting spots, and Emma will certainly be in that competition. Geoff just keeps producing winning players and people. Another stellar addition by Geoff.
Should be some more commits coming down the turnpike this weekend with Friday Night Lights coming up tomorrow night. Will hit ya back with any pops.
Final note and just in:
Wade Baldwin IV was picked by the Memphis Grizzlies as the 17th overall pick in first round of the NBA draft. Congratulations WB4! We'll miss you young man, but will be pulling for you hard with the Grizzlies. Damian should come off the board in the first round. Will let you know on that.
Damian selected 30th by the Warriors. Wow! Not sure what that means for Fes but we'll see.