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May 17, 2013

Vanderbilt set to host VIP Saturday

Saturday will be another big day for the Vanderbilt football program as head coach James Franklin and his staff are set to host another VIP recruiting event.

Many major targets from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 classes are set to visit the Commodore campus to see what Vanderbilt has to offer.

The attendees will also check out the nation's No. 1 college baseball program during the visit, as Tim Corbin's Commodores program will close out its historic regular season with the final game of the Alabama series.

VandySports.com takes a look at the prospects that have already RSVP'd for the weekend.

Gabe Angel

School: Wilson Central HS, Lebanon (Tenn.)
Class: 2016
Position: Athlete

Bio: Angel is unquestionably one of the top prospects in the state of Tennessee, regardless of grade level. A freshman sensation last fall, Angel helped Wilson Central to a breakout 8-3 season within the loaded District 9-AAA. Angel rushed for 178 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 18 carries during his first year on the varsity. He also caught 7 passes for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee have already offered, while many others including Alabama are also showing high interest. At 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, Angel could play multiple positions at the next level, including running back, tight end, linebacker or even pass rushing defensive end. Angel has already attended several Vanderbilt events since his process began.



Derek Barnett

School: Brentwood Academy, Brentwood (Tenn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Athlete

Bio: Barnett is one of the better two-way players in the south and one of the top rising seniors in the state of Tennessee. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound prospect enjoyed a strong junior season with the Brentwood Academy Eagles in 2012, racking up over 50 tackles with 15 tackles for loss and 7 sacks at defensive end. He also caught 10 passes for 196 yards and 3 touchdowns en route to the Tennessee Titans Division II Mr. Football Award. Barnett's blend of size and athleticism has garnered him nearly 20 offers since last fall, including 8 from the SEC. Some are recruiting him for defensive end, while others are projecting as tight end. The high three-star prospect is currently ranked 30th among "athletes" by Rivals.com. Vanderbilt was the first SEC school to offer, and continues to be a candidate for Barnett's services.



Jon Bezney

School: Mariemont HS, Cincinnati (Ohio)
Class: 2014
Position: Offensive line

Bio: Bezney is one of the more intriguing prospects from the state of Ohio for the 2014 class. The 6-foot-5, 272-pound prospect has received attention for various positions including offensive tackle, offensive guard, center, tight end and defensive tackle. An all-area, all-league, all-city selection in 2012, Bezney caught six touchdown passes while playing tight end and registered 11 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. His versatility and projectable frame has netted him several BCS offers, most notably from Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. He has over a dozen offers overall. The honorable mention all-state performer is also a strong prospect academic. A class president at Mariemont High, Bezney has already scored a 34 on his ACT and carries a 4.83 GPA. The Vanderbilt coaching staff likes Bezney's versatility, as well as his academic profile. He recently recognized VU as one of his top schools, so this weekend's visit could be huge for the Commodores.



D'Andre Ferby

School: Ensworth School, Nashville (Tenn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Athlete

Bio: Ferby is one of the top rising senior prospects in the state of Tennessee, and could be on the verge of reeling in his first few offers after his junior season was marred by injury. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound talent has been a part of three straight state championships at Ensworth, playing both running back, H-back and linebacker. As a junior, Ferby finished with 214 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 23 carries after missing the Tigers first 7 games. The 3-star level prospect also posted 10 tackles with 2 tackles for loss and a sack, and caught a TD and returned a fumble for another score. As a sophomore, Ferby turned heads while rushing for 616 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Tigers No. 2 back behind Corn Elder. He's received attention from a plethora of college programs including the likes of Cincinnati, Louisville, Miami and Nebraska. Vanderbilt has been involved from the start, and he is firmly on the radar. This will be the latest in a series of visits to the school over the past year and a half.



Rashaan Gaulden

School: Independence HS, Thompson Station (Tenn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Defensive back

Bio: Gaulden is one of the nation's top safety prospects and one of the best in Tennessee overall. Despite having to sit out his junior season due to transfer rules, Gaulden has received interest from all over the country and currently holds over a dozen scholarships. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive back brings great flexibility and instincts to the position. As a sophomore at Brentwood Academy, Gaulden posted 52 tackles with 5.5 resulting in a loss and fourth interceptions. He also forced three fumbles. Gaulden transferred to Independence last summer but was forced to sit out due to TSSAA rules. He projects as a safety at the next level and ranks 27th at the position according to Rivals.com. The high three-star could also play big corner at the next level. Vanderbilt was the very first to offer back in April of last year and has remained one of his top schools of interest due to the growing success of the program and the school's academic prestige.



J.C. Hassenauer

School: East Ridge HS, Woodberry (Minn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Center

Bio: Hassenauer is one of the nation's top emerging center prospects. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound performer has drawn attention from all over due to his size, agility and football acumen. The Minnesota standout recently took home offensive line MVP honors at the Rivals Camp Series in Chicago. Considered a true center prospect that plays with balance and a strong punch, he's seen his attention pick up since the performance. Vanderbilt offered in April and the Commodores have begun to pique his interest due to VU's academic profile and the chance to visit the SEC. The center position is a top priority for Vanderbilt in the 2014 recruiting period. Originally from California, Hassenauer does not have a timetable for a commitment and this will be his first visit to Nashville.



Rico McGraw

School: Ensworth School, Nashville (Tenn.)
Class: 2015
Position: Cornerback

Bio: McGraw is one of the south's most recruited 2015 prospects and unquestionably one of the top prospects in the state of Tennessee for his class. The smooth, 6-foot, 180-pound athlete possesses all the skill to be a shutdown corner at the next level. As a junior, McGraw posted 25 tackles with two interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Those numbers could've been even stronger had more teams attempted to pass against Ensworth's BCS level sophomore corners. McGraw's play was instrumental in the Tigers capturing a third straight state title. A phenom since his middle school days, McGraw has received scholarship offers from nearly 25 schools including the likes of Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Miami and Ohio State. Vanderbilt was one of the first to offer and he's made numerous visits in the past. McGraw is not in a rush to cut down his list of suitors or make a decision.



Malik Miller

School: Madison Academy, Madison (Ala.)
Class: 2016
Position: Athlete

Bio: Miller is one of the top 2016 prospects in the state of Alabama, and a firm early target for the Commodores. Hailing out of the same high school that produced Vanderbilt All-American receiver Jordan Matthews, Miller caught the eye of the staff last summer after a pair of strong camp performances. As a freshman last fall, Miller rushed for more than 700 yards and 16 touchdowns while helping the Mustangs to a Class 3A state championship. He also registered 82 tackles in his debut season. Miller could play both positions on the next level. He has great size at 220-pounds for the running back position, but he's also a fierce defensive player. Vanderbilt initially offered as a linebacker earlier this year, but is also considering the running back position for Miller. Auburn has also offered, while several other SEC programs are showing interest. This is believed to be the fifth visit to Vanderbilt for Miller since last summer as the Commodores have developed a good early relationship.



Jashon Robertson

School: Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville (Tenn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Defensive tackle

Bio: Robertson is one of the top defensive prospects in the state of Tennessee for the 2014 class and one of the best defensive tackles throughout the south. An anchor for the Commodores 2014 class, Robertson committed to Vanderbilt last June and has become one of the program's most vocal promoters. More importantly, the MBA product has started to realize his enormous upside potential. As a junior, Robertson finished with 50 tackles including 15 tackles for loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles, earning all-state recognition. He went on to capture the Division II heavyweight state championship in wrestling in February. A rare four-year varsity letterman for the Big Red, Robertson possesses great agility for his size and his strength appears to be improving every day. He's a firm commitment to VU and will no doubt look to do his part in adding a few more prospects to the fold this weekend.



Mike Sawyers

School: Ensworth School, Nashville (Tenn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Defensive tackle

Bio: Sawyers is another top defensive tackle prospect within the south and the state of Tennessee. The 6-foot-2, 307-pound bull of a prospect has seen his seen his stock soar in the last several months and now holds close to 20 scholarship offers. As a junior, Sawyers posted 41 tackles including 11 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. The two-way lineman was also one of the top blockers for Ensworth's explosive running game, earning all-state honors. Sawyers plays with a lot of power and explosion for his size. He's very capable of being disruptive in the backfield. Some of his offers include the likes of Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Nebraska and Washington. Vanderbilt was the very first to offer and has been among Sawyers top group of schools from the beginning. He's built a strong relationship with the Commodore coaching staff.



Donovan Sheffield

School: Ensworth School, Nashville (Tenn.)
Class: 2015
Position: Cornerback

Bio: Sheffield is another one of the top prospects in the state of Tennessee for the 2015 class, and joins Rico McGraw as the state's top cornerback duo at Ensworth. Sheffield started 13 games as a sophomore for the Tigers, racking up 32 tackles including 2.5 for a loss, 2 interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He returned both picks for a total of 131 yards including 1 touchdown. Sheffield, a all-state selection, also rushed for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns on 42 carries. The son of former Commodore Robert Sheffield, Donovan committed to Vanderbilt last August and remains firm in his decision, despite some new BCS offers coming his way. A gifted defender, he too has the skill set to be a lockdown corner at the next level. Like Robertson, Sheffield will likely attempt to recruit for the Commodores on Saturday.



Emmanuel Smith

School: Oakland HS, Murfreesboro (Tenn.)
Class: 2014
Position: Safety

Bio: Smith is the third Vanderbilt commitment that is expected to visit on Saturday, and the 2014 prospect is one of the south's top safety prospects and best in Tennessee overall. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound three-star standout from Oakland ranks 37th among all safety prospects according to Rivals.com and has been a productive performer during his career with the Patriots. As a junior, Smith recorded 77 tackles with 2 interceptions and 7 pass breakups. He also accounted for 12 touchdowns while rushing for 800 yards and throwing for 700 as a quarterback. The rangy prospect fits the mold of Vanderbilt's ideal safety prospect. Some have compared him to former standout and current Green Bay Packer Sean Richardson. Like his fellow commitments, Smith is likely to recruit a few players during the visit.



Josh Smith

School: Oakland HS, Murfreesboro (Tenn.)
Class: 2015
Position: Linebacker

Bio: Smith is yet another top 2015 prospect in the state of Tennessee. The younger brother of Emmanuel, Josh has already received nearly a handful of offers and likely to get many more over the next two years. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound standout missed much of his sophomore season due to a MCL injury, but he's impressed many college coaches this spring with his workouts at both Oakland and other camp events. Vanderbilt offered a few months ago and he sits atop the Commodores early targets for the 2015 class. His range, flexibility and quickness at outside linebacker is among the best of any in the state, regardless of class. Some also believe he could grow into a rush defensive end later in his career. Smith has visited Vanderbilt multiple times in the last few months, and is currently open to the process. His biggest goal right now is to return to action this fall with a vengeance and dominate District 7-AAA.



Chance Sorrell

School: Middletown HS, Middletown (Ohio)
Class: 2014
Position: Offensive tackle

Bio: Sorrell is another prospect that is starting to emerge as a strong offensive line candidate. One of the top tight ends in the state of Ohio, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound athlete has begun to see more and more schools flock to Middletown due to his potential as a highly-athletic offensive tackle. A nice runner with quick feet, balance and a very good frame that can fill out, programs such as Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville and West Virginia have offered, while others like Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State showing very strong interest. As a junior, Sorrell served primarily as a blocking tight end in Middletown's heavy wishbone based offense. Vanderbilt offered recently due his versatility and projectability as a potential left tackle. Sorrell has always had an interest in the SEC, so this weekend's visit could be significant for both him and the Commodores.



Eric Swinney

School: Sandy Creek HS, Tyrone (Ga.)
Class: 2015
Position: Running back

Bio: Swinney is one of Georgia's top rising junior prospects and one of the hotter names on the recruiting circuit right now. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back prospect has already received offers from nearly 10 schools and that number keeps rising. As a sophomore at Sandy Creek, Swinney rushed for 1,420 yards and 23 touchdowns. Recently named a top underclassman performer during the Rivals Camp Series, Swinney has elite-level speed and is nearly unstoppable to stop in space. A potential prospect at both the slot and running back, Swinney's vision and overall pass-catching ability has improved over the last year. Vanderbilt recently offered after evaluating Swinney since last summer. He's also recently collected an offer from Florida State. He appears to be another prospect that's firmly on VU's early 2015 radar, so this weekend's visit could help in further building a relationship between the two sides.








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