Posted: 12:04 p.m. Monday, July 22, 2013
By Christian D'Andrea
Vanderbilt may have dealt with one of the worst scandals in team history earlier this month, but that negative press hasn't had a similar impact on the recruiting trail. Last week, Jesse Burkett and Brendan Brosnan became the fourth and fifth high school players to pick Vandy since the team dismissed four players from the team and university amidst a sex crime investigation.
Burkett and Brosnan are both three-star offensive linemen who will add key depth to a position that has been a focal point of the Commodore rebuild over the past three seasons. Jordan Rodgers and Larry Smith both cut their teeth behind patchwork offensive lines that started slowly but grew considerably under the tutelage of Herb Hand. That unit will be stronger than ever in 2013, and the addition of two more horses to the stable - and four linemen total (five if you could long snapper Ike Powell) - will give Hand plenty of material to work with in the coming years.
Burkett, a 6'5", 285 pound Floridian, turned down offers from Florida State, Nebraska, and California to choose Vanderbilt. He's a rising prospect who should rise up the recruiting ranks with a solid senior season. Brosnan is leaner and taller at 6'6" and around 270 pounds, but he has quick feet and the frame to pack on the size and strength to make an impact in the SEC. Like Burkett, he'll have the opportunity to add an extra star with a big season this fall. He picked Vandy over Boston College, Illinois, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech.
The pair will join Cole Hardin and Bailey Granier in the trenches as members of the class of 2014. Granier, a 350-pound monster, may have the most raw talent of that group. Still, all four are likely heading for a redshirt year before making an impact at a suddenly deep position. The 'Dores will return all of their starting linemen next fall except for senior All-SEC standout Wesley Johnson. A recruiting haul that added seven players that were rated at three stars or better between 2012 and 2013 will pad out the position behind those veterans.
Burkett and Brosnan may not be headline recruits, but they are the type of players that will anonymously push this team to wins and do the dirty work at the line of scrimmage. More importantly, their commitments continue to prove that Vanderbilt, thanks in part to strong disciplinary action, is moving on from the bad decisions that a few team members made weeks ago. We don't know for sure just how heavily early July's dismissal of four young players from the university weighed on Burkett or Brosnan's minds heading into their decision, but it's clear that these players - along with Tre Herndon, Mike Sawyers, and Trent Sherfield - were satisfied enough with the school's decision to choose Nashville as their college destination.