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Vanderbilt relies on recruits with championship experience to help program's recovery

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Vanderbilt will attempt to bounce back from two straight losing seasons with help from a recruiting class heavy on championship experience.

The Commodores announced a balanced class Wednesday that includes 10 players on offense, nine on defense and a kicker. Eight of Vanderbilt's 20 signees played on state championship teams in high school.

Commodores coach called his new recruits "a group of athletic players, proven winners and high-character young men."


Other things to know:

Top 25 Class: No

Best in class: JoeJuan Williams, a 6-foot-3 cornerback from Nashville, Tennessee, is a consensus four-star recruit. Williams was rated as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Tennessee according to composite rankings of recruiting websites by 247Sports. Williams already has enrolled at Vanderbilt.

Best of the rest: Quarterback Deuce Wallace, a consensus three-star recruit, passed for 3,505 yards and 37 touchdowns last season while leading Sevier County to the Tennessee Class 5A state championship game. Wallace, who had been committed to Northwestern at one point, has already enrolled at Vanderbilt. Sean Auwae, a 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman, is rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports,. Auwae didn't allow a sack or a tackle for loss his senior year at Kapolei (Hawaii) High School.

Late addition: Josiah Sa'o, a defensive tackle from San Diego, announced Wednesday he was signing with Vanderbilt. The addition of Sa'o helped the Commodores absorb the loss of defensive tackle Brandon Adams, who flipped his verbal commitment from Vanderbilt to Georgia Tech in late January.

One that got away: Bradlee Anae, a defensive end from Hawaii, selected Utah over Vanderbilt. Anae was rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout.

How they'll fit in: Wallace adds immediate depth to a quarterback position following the transfer of Jonathan McCrary, who lost his starting job to last season. Williams has the talent to make an immediate contribution, and his status as an early enrollee should only help in that regard. Mason is a former Stanford defensive coordinator, and this staff showed its West Coast ties by landing kicker/punter Sam Loy and Sa'o from California as well as Auwae from Hawaii.

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