Vanderbilt Football: Recruiting Class Could Put Commodores over the Hump

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 7: Running back Warren Norman #27 of the Vanderbilt Commodores rushes upfield against the Florida Gators on November 7, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

For the first time in recent memory the Vanderbilt Commodores have a recruiting class that is catching national attention, and I'm not talking about baseball or basketball.

Yes, the lowly Vanderbilt Commodores have now been regarded by many as having a top-25 recruiting class in college football, most notably by ESPN.com.

This is mostly thanks to new head coach James Franklin, who has a mountainous task at trying to persuade top prospects to play for a program that has one bowl win since 1982.

Despite the challenge, Franklin has currently inked 11 commitments that includes four 4-star prospects.

The latest three signings are still in high school and won't be seen in a Vanderbilt uniform for at least another season, and that's if they stay true to their commitment.

One of the most intriguing aspect of these latest three commitments are the fact that two of them are on the offensive side of the ball, a part of the game where Vanderbilt always struggles going against SEC defenses.

For Vanderbilt to ever get over the hump, they're going to have to start bringing in more talented offensive prospects, and this is a huge step in the right direction.

Brian Kimbrow plays running back and is a speed specialist, while Cory Batey plays wide receiver and will be a local favorite coming out of Nashville.

If these recruits do indeed end up suiting up for the Commodores in 2012, the Commodores will already have a solid offense.

Current Junior quarterback Jordan Rodgers will be a senior, and running backs Zac Stacy and Warren Norman will also be seniors in 2012.

The receiving corps should still have Jonathan Krause and John Cole and they will be experienced upperclassmen.

In other words, Vanderbilt has the opportunity to field a very solid offensive unit in 2012 if things hold together.

We have to remember it's still very early in the recruiting process, but the Commodores still have plenty to be excited about.

The Commodores have always had the challenge of playing in the toughest conference top to bottom in college football, which has led to many two- and three-win seasons over the years.

Ask almost any true SEC fan and they'll tell you that Vanderbilt always competes, but always seems to be missing the raw talent that it takes to win in the SEC.

If this recruiting class holds up then the enormous talent gap between Vanderbilt and virtually the rest of the SEC will be dramatically decreased.

However, it's also important to note that other SEC schools will still have their normal top-25 recruiting classes as well this offseason.

Schools like Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Florida will always out-recruit Vanderbilt just due to all of the tradition those schools offer to young prospects.

It's really all about tradition and winning championships in college football, and Vanderbilt unfortunately can't offer that.

It really goes to show you how fertile this part of the country is for football prospects. Here you have a traditional last place team in Vanderbilt who is still managing to bring in highly-regarded prospects from Tennessee and other states in the region.

The SEC isn't going to get any easier in the near future, and if Vanderbilt can bridge the gap then the SEC will really become a dog fight year in and year out.

If there is ever going to be a time when Vanderbilt becomes relevant in college football, then it could be now.